Selbstbildnis als Soldat (1915) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Selbstbildnis als Soldat - Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - 1915

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Artwork Information

TitleSelbstbildnis als Soldat
ArtistErnst Ludwig Kirchner
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions69.2 x 61 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationAllen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM), Oberlin, OH, US
Location Created Germany
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About Selbstbildnis als Soldat

The artwork “Selbstbildnis als Soldat” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, rendered in oil on canvas, dates back to 1915. This piece is a striking example of the Expressionist movement and represents a self-portrait genre. It measures 69.2 cm by 61 cm and is currently housed at the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) in Oberlin, Ohio, United States. The artwork was created in Germany and vividly portrays the challenging themes and stylistic elements characteristic of this intense time.

This self-portrait reveals an unsettling image of Kirchner dressed in a soldier’s uniform, keying in on the psychological as well as the physical trauma of his wartime experience. The artwork presents a soldier with a downward gaze and a pensive expression. His countenance is sharply delineated with angular lines and a grim palette of colors, intensifying the emotive quality of the piece. The use of bold colors and exaggerated forms are hallmarks of Expressionism, intended to evoke an emotional response rather than to depict reality accurately.

The contrast between the uniformed figure and the dismembered hand is particularly jarring, and may symbolize the artist’s own fears of mutilation and incapacity brought upon by the war. In the background, an abstracted, naked figure is painted, adding to the sense of chaos and emotional turmoil that pervades the work. The artwork is charged with a potent psychological resonance, reflecting the deep personal crisis and the broader collective angst of the period.

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