Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


Rückenakt mit Spiegel und Mann

Material / Technique
Bildmaß 151 × 74,5 cm
Rahmenmaß 165,8 × 89,7 × 4,5 cm
Related Digital Projects
Acquisition details
Erworben 1988 aus Privatbesitz
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Rückenakt mit Spiegel und Mann, 1912, Öl auf Leinwand, Brücke-Museum, Gemeinfreies Werk

Exhibitions (selection)

Literature (selection)

  • Magdalena M. Moeller, Das Brücke-Museum Berlin, Prestel, München 1996.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke. La nascita dell´espressionismo, Ausst.-Kat. Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta Milan, Mazzotta, Milano 1999.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Die Brücke. Meisterwerke aus dem Brücke-Museum Berlin, Ausst.-Kat. Brücke-Museum Berlin, Hirmer Verlag, München 2000.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Neuerwerbungen seit 1988, Hirmer Verlag, München 2001.

  • Javier Arnaldo, Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke. Die Geburt des deutschen Expressionismus, Ausst.-Kat. Berlinische Galerie, Hirmer Verlag, München 2005.

  • Javier Arnaldo, Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke. El nacimiento del expresionismo alemán, Ausst.-Kat. Museo Thyssen-Bornesza Madrid/Fundación Caja Madrid, Madrid 2005.

  • Brücke. El naixement de l'expressionisme alemany, Ausst.-Kat. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya Barcelona, Lunwerg, Barcelona 2005.

  • Dirk Luckow, Magdalena M. Moeller, Peter Thurmann (Hg.), Christian Rohlfs. Die Begegnung mit der Moderne, Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthalle zu Kiel / Brücke-Museum Berlin, Hirmer Verlag, München 2005.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke-Museum Berlin, Malerei und Plastik. Kommentiertes Verzeichnis der Bestände, Hirmer Verlag, München 2006.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke Highlights, Hirmer Verlag, München 2007.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke Museum Highlights, Hirmer Verlag, München 2017.


Signiert unten rechts: EL Kirchner (Signatur)
Nicht bezeichnet (Bezeichnung)

Inventory Number

Catalog Number
Gordon 225

(Isabel Fischer)

About the Work

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Rückenakt mit Spiegel und Mann (Nude with Mirror and Man), 1912

Artist’s studio or brothel? The scene in Kirchner’s Rückenakt mit Spiegel und Mann (Nude with Mirror and Man) seems to evoke both, but the location is never entirely clear. Could the blurring of the two spaces be deliberate on the part of the artist, a conscious play with the respective contexts?

Standing at the centre of the painting is an almost life-size female nude in a three-quarter view from behind. Dressed only in reddish-brown pumps, she poses confidently in front of a mirror, arms folded in front of her. The viewer’s line of sight falls directly on the woman’s broad hips and buttocks. Approaching the nude from the deep blue of the surrounding space is a dark male figure; his gaze is fixed on the naked woman, his hand is raised as if in greeting. Unlike the woman, the man is clothed: his dark street clothes and top hat show him to be a member of the bourgeoisie. The figure almost seems like he came from one of Kirchner’s later street scenes. His facial features are blurred – almost arbitrary, anonymous – and he blends into the shadowy space in the background. Might the man be a brothel-goer, a potential customer who has just entered the establishment and is eyeing a sex worker on display? The fact that the woman is wearing nothing except for high-heeled reddish pumps would imply as much.

Yet other elements of the picture would situate the scene in a different context. Individual furnishings in the foreground point to Kirchner’s own studio and residence: the carpet the woman is standing on resembles one of Kirchner’s Oriental rugs, and the curved console table below the mirror suggests the artist’s space as well. Sitting atop the console is a wooden sculpture in the shape of a man’s head. Kirchner is known to have decorated his rooms with wooden sculptures – both his own works and those by others. So is the woman a model posing for an artist (one who is not visible in the painting) as another visitor enters the studio in the background? The painting allows both interpretations without committing to one.

What is clear is that the depiction does not show a harmonious, equal coexistence of man and woman: The painting composition and colour allocation can leave no doubt. The work is divided into two parts: the foreground – with the female figure and furnishings – is rendered in warm brown, ochre and red tones. The woman’s body appears illuminated and becomes the focus of the work. The male figure, by contrast, is kept in the same dark blue tones as the shadowy background. The result is a physical and psychological tension that allows the woman and man to appear as opposites.

(Thủy-Tiên Nguyễn )
You stare at me, but you don’t see me
(Isabel Fischer )
About the Work
(Josephine Papke )
(CK ) Arms
(CK ) Looks
(CK ) Bum
(CK ) Sex work
(Jamie ) Body
(L ) Scary
(Panda ) Femme fatale
(Panda ) Standing naked
(Rania ) Filter
(Tabesch ) Male Gaze
(Tabesch ) Idealized