Blackpaint 102


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I used to hate this artist’s work.  It was violent, crudely done in garish colours and too “Germanic” by miles.  Typical German stuff, I thought; women all portrayed as whores, murders (cf. Grosz and Kokoschka), cold, staring, cigarette-mouthing soldier waiting, while woman undressed for his attentions.. All impeccably Weimar and non-Nazi for sure – he was in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art and was kicked out of the Prussian Academy of Arts – but still somehow brutish and sordid.

Then, I went to see the London exhibition at the Royal Academy – which I’m staggered to find was in 2003 (I thought it was maybe 3 years ago); I found that it was, yes, all the things I say above, but I loved it.  The colours are livid; he uses a sulphurous yellow, sickly oranges, pinks and especially lime greens.  His groups of secretly smiling, blank/black-eyed street women are like exotic, elongated insects, their fancy collars and hat plumes antennae; they are ogled by cigaretted men.  The pictures are strangely angled, as if reflected in a distorting mirror.

Those colours somehow seem to pervade German painting down to recent times, for me; Baselitz and Kippenberger, for instance.  Even – especially – when the colours are bright, they seem to have an inner darkness, or more a sort of deadness to them.  This sounds bad, but I like it; it’s not blinding Mediterranean, like those tiresome French and Spanish geniuses and not washed-out and understated, like our dour British masterpieces.

So, one thing you can be sure of when you visit Blackpaint’s blog – you will never be plagued by tired national stereotypes in the search for artistic truth.

Since I have given you two Kirchners , you have to have one of mine-

Blackpaint

02.04.10

PS – not sure if anyone is reading – please drop me a comment (good or bad) if you are.

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