Explore by
Living and Working
Big City Life
Under the Open Sky
Into a World of Pleasure
Collecting and Exhibiting

Live-in studio of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1913–1917)

Living and Working

“When you stepped into his room, you felt like you were on another star or in an otherworldly century. […] He lived in princely poverty, feeding on a cut head of cabbage that lay uncooked on the kitchen table next to a kitchen knife.”

Karl Theodor Bluth, notes, n.d.

In the fall of 1913, shortly after the dissolution of the Brücke artists’ group, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner moved into a new home. The new live-in studio at Körnerstraße 45 in Steglitz measured around 75 square meters and was by far larger than his previous domicile at Durlacher Straße 14. At last he had enough space for himself and his art. He and his partner Erna Schilling had a total of five rooms at their disposal, including two studio rooms.

The view from one of the apartment’s windows was of the Friedenauer Bridge and the Wannsee railway. The small Friedenau train station was just a few minutes’ walk away – a regular starting point for Kirchner’s forays into downtown Berlin, which he started making even more often than before from then on. He designed the apartment as a retreat with self-made furniture and textiles. Surrounded by his own artworks, but also sculptures and objects from different cultures and countries, he dreamed himself into faraway places without ever questioning their colonial contexts.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Werner Gothein, Hugo Biallowons and Erna Schilling in Kirchner‘s studio, Berlin-Friedenau (Steglitz), Körnerstraße 45, 1915, photograph, Sammlung E. W. Kornfeld, Bern/Davos

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Werner Gothein, Erna Schilling and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in the studio at Körnerstrasse 45, 1914/15, photography, Kirchner Museum Davos, donation of the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner estate

At the same time, the premises were also bustling with bohemian life, with many visitors and exuberant celebrations, which Kirchner captured in both drawings and photographs. In addition to his former students Werner Gothein and Hans Gewecke, Botho Graef and Hugo Biallowons were also regular guests. Graef, a professor from Jena, was one of Kirchner’s first buyers and patrons. A photograph illustrates how exuberant the mood must have been in the studio on Körnerstraße: Biallowons dances around the room naked with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, while Erna Schilling and Werner Gothein observe the events intently.

Antonia Moldenhauer and Isabel Fischer

Explore Berlin through the Eyes of the Brücke Artists