Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Railway overpass Löbtauer Straße

by Laura Gerstmann


One of the most famous artist groups at the beginning of the 20th century was the artistic association Die Brücke. Along with Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was one of the main expressionist representatives and co-founders of the group. His work "Eisenbahnüberführung Löbtauer Straße" can be seen as a representation of the collective Brücke style. It shows the view through a railroad bridge to the corner building in front of a branching street in the district of Dresden Friedrichstadt, where the artist's studio was located. 

Kirchner plays with perspectives here. Thus the railroad bridge, which serves as a framing element, can be seen from below, while the corner house is perceived from above. The shifted perspective should not be attributed to inability to draw, but to deliberate arrangement. Kirchner had previously studied architecture in Dresden and was skilled in architectural drawing. His skill is also evident in the fact that, despite abstraction and a two-dimensional painting style, architectural details are not omitted, such as the precise elaboration of the steel structure of the railroad bridge. 


The bridge artists were not concerned with the exact depiction of reality, but with the realization of dynamics, movement and rhythm. This is also reinforced in the present picture by the sweepingly drawn outlines, which can be seen above all at the curbs. The emotionally applied, expressive colors are combined to form surface clusters and reinforce the lack of pictorial depth. 


The few people in the painting seem isolated and rigid. They could be main characters in a contemporary poem and stand for the alienation of people in the big city. 


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Railway overpass Löbtauer Straße

Oil on canvas, 1910/26, 70,5 x 90,5cm, Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden