LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) Coffee Table 1913, reverse side: Bathers on Fehmarn, Oil on canvas, 117 x 114 cm Inv. no. 1175 LM, Acquired 1963 with the support of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938,) Coffee Table, 1908

The table, which has been laid for afternoon coffee and at which three women clothed in middleclass fashion sit, dominates the centre of the picture. The luminous yellow of the tablecloth repeatedly threatens to take over the foreground completely. In combination with the unnaturally poisonous green of the women’s faces, it appears to be almost unpleasant, aggressive even.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was 28 years old when he painted this picture. According to his own account, he studied the theory of how contrasting colours interact, in order to then deliberately disobey it. The turbulent brushstrokes and the dissolving contours of the colours underline the vibrating colours’ intensive effect.

Kirchner himself was completely convinced by his own artistic approach. Even though his art found early recognition amongst art critics, in his opinion it was still not being praised highly enough. Consequently the artist himself decided to generate some positive reviews by publishing various texts about his work, under the pseudonym Louis de Marsalle. (EG)