Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Woodcut “Sailboats at Fehmarn”


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Essay #: 067031
Total text length is 7,144 characters (approximately 4.9 pages).

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The beginning:
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Woodcut "Sailboats at Fehmarn"
This essay will be about Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s 1914 woodcut titled Sailboats at Fehmarn, which I saw at the McMaster Museum of art. The woodcut depicts five men in a boat with black sails, and is indicative of the expressionist art movement, which believed in depicting the psychological interior or a subject. This woodcut, which was made at the beginning of World War I, seems to depict the collective psychology of the European imagination being pushed toward the madness of war by evil winds caught by black sails.
The intentions of the artist seem to be manifest in the medium. Woodcuts like this one are necessarily more primitive than an oil painting. Kirchner was probably a gifted...
The end:
.....remain neutral in this way about war because the artists must be on message with the rest of the liberal left.
This is part of why seeing this piece today and deconstructing it is so exciting. It is possibly being morally neutral about war. It is depicting war as a kind human narrative that is part of nature, instead of a thing being made by power that a collectivist would will the public to resist. Kirchner may be saying that there is no resistance to war, which could not be said now, or is not, because the polarity between people and power has been so made to seem so sharply divided, and the voices of resistance to be people who do not feel the winds of war as others do. Kirchner is a very exciting artist to behold, and frightening.