Art in Review: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
The New York Times
Grace Glueck
29 April 2005

The German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), a founder of Die Brücke, the Expressionist group inspired by primitive art and devoted to raw emotional imagery, produced about 20,000 works on paper in the course of his mentally fragile life. (His art was declared ''degenerate'' by the Nazis in 1937; he committed suicide a year later.)

The harsh, angular style of his painting is sometimes evident in his drawings and prints, but as the more than 30 works here show, his approaches are many. He applied his insights and rapid sketching facility to everything drawable, from the body language of women to the serene majesty of the Swiss Alps, where he made his home after a nervous breakdown during World War I. 

The earlier works here are the most free, sometimes to the point of illegibility, as in ''Bathers Under Overhanging Tree Branches'' (1914). So frenetic that its subject can hardly be read, it has the slam-bang quality of violent comic strip drawing. Later, there is the near-abstract calligraphy of ''Grazing Animals on an Alp'' (1917) and the idyllic scrawl of ''Cows on a Mountain'' (1919). 

As time went on, Kirchner's drawings seemed to become less improvisational, more finished and accessible, like the sharp, canny ''Portrait of a Young Girl'' (1933) and the comfy ''Balcony Scene'' (1935), depicting a couple and their dog against a mountain backdrop. Still, the feelingness of his line did not desert him; it is what powers this show.