Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
(1880–1938)

Figures on a Busy Street

1914
India ink, watercolor, gouache, and reed pen on wove paper
12 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches (313 x 420 mm)

Bequest of Fred Ebb

2005.140
Item description: 

"I must draw at speeds close to racing, just draw," Kirchner wrote. "Then after a time select what is good." The execution of this watercolor inspired by Berlin's streets conveys the fast pace and transience of modern urban life. All the faceless figures look alike. Although the swift strokes of the pen and free handling of watercolors preserve the spontaneity of a drawing made from life, the careful arrangement of the groups of figures and cars at this busy intersection suggests a planned composition rather than a quick recording of visual impressions.