Four Wooden Sculptures
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner ( German, 1880 - 1938 )
This intriguing image at first seems to show a strange assembly of nude figures, three women and one man, painted in a raw and expressive style. On closer inspection, one realizes that the figures are small wooden sculptures clustered on the scalloped base of a mirror. The sculptures, directly carved in wood and partially painted, were made by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner himself. Two of the sculptures—the male figure to the left and standing female figure at right—survive, but the others are only known from this painting. Four Wooden Sculptures is a significant example of Kirchner’s work from the period when he belonged to the Brücke (Bridge), an artistic collective founded in Dresden in 1905. The Brücke artists shared an interest in so-called “primitive” arts, particularly Oceanic and African sculpture. The reverse of the canvas is painted with a separate composition, Ice Skater, made in Davos, Switzerland, during the winter of 1929–30.
Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Four Wooden Sculptures (Vier Holzplastiken)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 241.
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
Learn more about the life and work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner from MOMA.