In 1905 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner founded an artist community in Dresden known as Brücke, along with Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Fritz Bleyl. The studio was made into a safe haven for the avant-garde. Between 1911 and 1914, when Kirchner resided in Berlin, he set out to create the same environment for like-minded artists there. Embroidered curtains, painted furniture, oriental upholstery, and erotic paintings provided the perfect setting for the permissive lifestyle enjoyed by this decidedly anti-bourgeois group of friends. It was in such an atmosphere that the informal togetherness of the models in Nudes in the Studio was captured between two sessions. The painting was made during a time in which Kirchner had discovered for himself the “beautiful, architecturally-constructed, precisely-shaped bodies” of his future wife, Erna Schilling, and her sister, which – as the artist himself put it – redeemed “the soft Saxon body.” Despite the triangular composition’s exploration of nudity, which varies from partially- clothed to entirely nude, there still remains an austere anonymity to the models shaped like cuneiform script.


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