Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) German painter, who was one of the leading practitioners of expressionism. He was influenced by the strong colors and compositional distortions of neoimpressionism and by the expressiveness of African and Oceanian woodcarving (see African Art and Architecture and Oceanian Art and Architecture). As a founding member of the expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge) in Dresden in 1905, Kirchner tried to distill natural forms in radical and sometimes brutal simplifications.
His bold lines and clashing colors create a sense of violent emotion. Moving to Berlin in 1911, Kirchner produced some of the most characteristic work of German expressionism, especially in scenes with women, such as Five Women in the Street (1913, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne), in which grotesque distortions mock the mannered artificiality of Berlin society. His work in the late 1920s became increasingly abstract as he attempted to solve theoretical questions. The Nazis deemed him a degenerate artist and confiscated 600 of his paintings. Soon afterward, he committed suicide.