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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

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
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"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.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.