Kirchner in Berlin

A woodcut showing five figures. Three in the foreground are seen in profile, wearing plumed headpieces. Another at far left faces them, while the final figure is partially seen in the background. Roughly rendered, angular forms appear at far right. The palette is black and white.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Five Coquettes on the Street (Kaiser Café, Berlin) (Fünf Kokotten auf der Strasse [Kaiser Café, Berlin]), 1914. Woodcut. Collection of Nelson Blitz, Jr., and Catherine Woodard

Few images of the modern city are as iconic as the prints made by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Berlin around 1914. He dwelled on the German capital’s notorious nightlife, both seduced by its liberatory pleasures and alienated by its transactional ethos. Prostitution and its murky social codes became the artist’s paradigmatic urban theme. Join Joseph Henry, the Florence B. Selden Fellow, Prints and Drawings, for a discussion of these famed street scenes and their ambivalent representations of sex, work, and leisure at the dawn of the First World War. Offered in conjunction with the exhibition Munch and Kirchner: Anxiety and Expression.