Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


Sich kämmender Akt

Material / Technique
Bildmaß 125 × 90 cm
Rahmenmaß 146,5 × 111 × 5,5 cm
Acquisition details
Erworben 1971 aus dem Kunsthandel
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Sich kämmender Akt, 1913, Öl auf Leinwand, Brücke-Museum, Gemeinfreies Werk
Object Reference
Vorderseite von Violette Bäume

Exhibitions (selection)

Literature (selection)

  • Leopold Reidemeister, Das Brücke-Museum, Berlin 1984.

  • 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.

  • 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 und Rainer Stamm (Hg.), ... die Welt in diesen rauschenden Farben. Meisterwerke aus dem Brücke-Museum Berlin, Ausst.-Kat. Landesmuseum Oldenburg, Hirmer Verlag, München 2016.

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

  • Christian Philipsen i. V. m. Thomas Bauer-Friedrich (Hg.), Bauhaus Meister Moderne. Das Comeback, Ausst.-Kat. Kunstmuseums Moritzburg Halle (Saale), E.A. Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 2019.

  • Meike Hoffmann, Lisa Marei Schmidt, Aya Soika für das Brücke-Museum (Hg.), Flucht in die Bilder? Die Künstler der Brücke im Nationalsozialismus, Ausst.-Kat. Brücke-Museum , Hirmer Verlag, München 2019.


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

Inventory Number

Catalog Number
Gordon 361

(Isabel Fischer)

About the work

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Sich kämmender Akt (Nude Combing Her Hair), 1913

Even during his Dresden years (1905–1911), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was already focusing on the artistic representation of the female body – whether in nature or in his studio at home. Between 1909 and 1912 in particular, soft, voluptuous body shapes dominated his depictions of women. From 1912 onwards, this changed radically: with slender figures, long limbs and sharp to angular forms, a new type of woman found her way into his works. An impressive example of this transformation can be observed in this painting from 1913: elongated limbs, angular elbows and breasts pointing outwards characterise this depiction of a nude woman, who is centrally located in the foreground of the image.

How and why did Kirchner arrive at this new physical ideal and his subsequent change of style? The artist himself attributes this shift to a biographical event: “The shape of human forms was strongly influenced by my third wife (Erna), a Berliner who was part of my life from then on, and her sister. The beautiful, architectural, austere bodies of these two girls superseded the soft Saxon bodies.” Kirchner had met the sisters Erna and Gerda Schilling – who performed as dancers in the cabarets and dance halls of Berlin – in the summer of 1912 and became friends with them. They posed for him in the rooms of his studio. In addition to a series of portraits, Kirchner also produced other depictions of figures and nudes in which he experimented with his new ideal of a modern type of woman – such as the painting Sich kämmender Akt (Nude Combing Her Hair).

Kirchner’s play with sharp, angular forms is taken up and amplified in the background of the work. The background – table, colourful wall hangings, carpet and walls – appears fragmented into individual colourful panels. The perspective is no longer clearly perceptible; the viewer’s eye cannot discern a fixed vanishing point. This dynamic composition and sharp forms could potentially be traced back to Kirchner’s encounter with Futurism. Kirchner saw works by the Italian artists at the Sturm Gallery in Berlin in the spring of 1912. The Futurists were fascinated by speed, momentum and new technologies such as cars, trains, aeroplanes and modern architecture. Traditional motifs – including studio scenes and portraits – were not of interest to them. Kirchner, on the other hand, transferred their dynamic style to his figure paintings: for him, the modern age was not only changing people’s means of locomotion, but also their bodies. In 1926 he wrote about this subject in his diary: “Our people, who have been riding the trams since they were able to walk, are acquiring a different body […] and even the speed at which we travel is changing the form of our bodies.”

(Betül & Brigita) Interview Self-confidence
(Stephanie) Interview Feldenkreis
(Isabel Fischer)
About the work
(Șeyda Kurt)
Be Your Most Amazing Self
(Sonja Eismann)
The Male Gaze
(Konni) Mindfulness
(Betül) Feminist Image
(Lena) Male Gaze
(Josephine) Self Care
(Brigita) Shame
(Betül) Feeling of Safety