Painting: Expressionism and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Topics: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Expressionism, Modern art Pages: 7 (1713 words) Published: December 16, 2012
As part of the Places and Spaces unit you will paint an image of the College in the style of the Fauves. Before we get started, it is a really good idea to observe and analyse the work of the Fauves. Reading a little more about their stylistic approaches and aims will help inform and enhance your own artmaking.

Task One
1.View the PowerPoint presentation on Fauvsim, taking brief notes as you go. 2. Then, write an analysis of Derain's "London Bridge,Winter" from the Frames. Do a Google search to find a clear image of the artwork. Use the Frames analysis sheet that has been provided in class. Write your analysis in your Visual Arts Process Diary.

André Derain: London Bridge, oil on canvas, 66×99.1 cm, 1906 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Street, Dresden, oil on canvas, 150.5×200.4 cm, 1908 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); photo © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, © Artists Rights Society, NY
Jacques-Henri Lartigue: Paris, Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, gelatin silver print, 29.5×40 cm, 1908 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); photo © The Museum of Modern Art, New York


The late nineteenth century saw the rise of the modern city shaped by industry, innovations in transportation, and shifting politics. During this period and throughout the early twentieth century, the urban experience became an important artistic subject.


Students will learn to broaden their descriptive and analytical vocabulary through comparisons and close analysis of works of art.

Students will discuss changes taking place in the modern world and the psychological effects on the artists discussed in this guide.


Take a close look at André Derain’s London Bridge and describe what you see, using a variety of different words. How would you describe it to someone who has never seen it? Make a list of five to ten adjectives that apply to this painting.

What kind of city do you think this painting is depicting? Think about industry, population, and atmosphere (the “feel” of a place). What do you see in the painting that supports your ideas?

In 1905, André Derain, a French Fauve painter, was commissioned by his art dealer Ambroise Vollard to paint views of London. Derain stayed in London for about two months, painting about thirty pictures. All of these paintings depict activity on or around the Thames, the wide river flowing directly through the heart of the city that was (and still is) both a tourist attraction and an essential part of London’s industry. Derain set up his easel outdoors, and painted what was directly in front of him.

Nineteenth-century London underwent a huge growth in population following industrial developments, especially the building of the railways, beginning with the 1836 London and Greenwich line. London’s population rose from about one million in 1800 to over six million a century later. Grand new architectural projects had been built in the city center, including several bridges over the River Thames, such as London Bridge, depicted in this painting. In 1905, the year before Derain painted this image, London Bridge had been widened to accommodate pedestrians.

Despite London’s intense activity, Derain sought to create images of calm and tranquility. That same year, he wrote a letter to Matisse, which said:

I sincerely believe that we ought to aim for calm. . . . This calm is something of which we can be certain. Beauty, then, ought to be an aspiration towards this calm. [--André Derain, January 1906, quote in Judi Freeman, The Fauve Landscape (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990), 85.]

How do you think Derain evokes the “calm” he was aiming for?

Now that you know more about London during this time, comment on the aspects of the city Derain chose to focus on. How do you think...
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