Exhibitions: Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker vom Rath, Frankfurt/Main 1954, cat. no.54; Expressionisten. Aquarelle und Graphiken, Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, Bremen/Berlin, cat. no.3 with col. illus.Provenance: The artist’s estate, with Basel estate stamp on the reverse (Lugt 1570b) and hand-written registration no. “FS Drc/Bc 13”; Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker vom Rath, Frankfurt/Main; New Art Center, Weintraub Gallery, New York; private collection, Rhode Island; Max Vater (1992); Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, Bremen/Berlin (um 1992), with gallery label on the back of the frame; private collection, Berlin.


• This drawing reflects Kirchner’s fascination with foreign cultures
• The artist did not discover his exotic motifs through travel, but by visiting anthropological museums and shows
• Kirchner skilfully captures the scene in chalk with just a few bold strokes

In February 1909, Kirchner is known to have attended a performance by the Sarrasani circus in Dresden. He observed the Moroccan acrobats and recorded their performance in his sketchbook (Skb 7). Kirchner later used the sketches he made on site in numerous paintings, watercolours and prints. At the time the sheet was created, there is also evidence of a “Völkerschau” in Dresden, the kind of ethnological exhibition that Kirchner frequently visited. Here, people from foreign countries were presented as living exhibits, performing dances and rites from their respective homelands as a spectacle. Circus performers and people with dark skin were considered outsiders in Wilhelmine society. For the “Brücke” artists, on the other hand, they served as a way to project their ideal of primordial, nature-loving man. While Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde pursued their fascination with the exotic by travelling to the South Seas, Kirchner derived his knowledge of non-European cultures during visits to the Ethnological Museum or the aforementioned ethnological exhibitions in Dresden. Kirchner skilfully renders the outlines of the depicted figures with a few bold, broken lines, and he hints at the brightly coloured, exotic clothing with summary hatching.

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