The Written Image” was an exhibit of German Expressionist art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. But it was not the exhibit of German Expressionism you might expect to see — none of Ernst Kirchner’s lurid scenes of degenerated Berlin society smeared across the streets. It was a show, rather, of portfolios, periodicals, works sketched on single sheets of paper. Featured among them were the so-called “wordless novels.” In one glass case was a 1926 copy of Frans Masereel’s My Book of Hours.

   

Frans Masereel was a Flemish artist whose primary medium was the woodcut. The woodcut genre thrived in Europe during the interwar years. Masereel and his contemporaries were drawn to woodcuts as they were to cartoons and silent film, media in which images were dominant and words were few. This was appropriate… More…

 

Prostitutes were the big difference in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s life. When he lived in Dresden he showed definite artistic talent but he didn’t have anything in particular to say. His paintings and drawings weren’t yet fully his own. He was still learning about the world and still learning about his own talent.

Then, in 1911, he moved to Berlin. He quickly acquainted himself with the new Berlin prostitutes. They were out there in the streets, roaming, hunting. He was out there too, alone with his sketchpad. He was watching the movement of people in the late night air, a certain flickering of the streetlights along Potsdamer Platz. His sketches from that period take on a mania. The lines are flying all over the page. Kirchner is after something now, a specific tempo and density, a tightening of perspective… More…