"Zwei Mädchen im Sertig-Tal (Two Girls in Sertig Valley)", 1926
Coloured chalk on paper
19.92 x 15.24 in / framed 27.17 x 21.26 in
Artist's estate stamp on reverse,
numbered in ink ""FS Da/BF3",
numbered in pencil "K 5996"
Über das Werk
Kirchner began painting this present scene of two female nudes in a natural landscape in the summer of 1926 in Sertig Valley near Davos. This narrow and wildly spectacular romantic section of the valley through which the Sertig stream flows, branches off in a south-easterly direction at Frauenkirch in the main Davos valley and ends at the 2800-metre high Sertig Pass. Since 1923, Kirchner had been living in his house known as "Auf dem Wildboden". This remote and unspoiled corner of the valley, with its pristine mountainous landscape of Swiss stone pines, clearings and streams offered the ideal conditions in which to bathe in the nude and study the human body in its natural state. During the 1920s and 1930s, Kirchner explored this terrain to draw and paint. The intensive experience of witnessing the naked human form in rapid, unconstrained motion and spontaneous postures, extending beyond the carefully studied poses of the academy and in close harmony with the archaic landscape, furnished the artist with fresh inspiration for his work.
"I think that I can better capture the authenticity, the quintessence of things and creatures when I observe them without them knowing that they are being observed," commented Kirchner in 1925, explaining the nature of unobtrusive observation, which, at the same time, was characterised by deep trust and intimacy. In the summer months, from July to September, the Basle-based artist friend and painting student Paul Camenisch visited him, accompanied, on the express wishes of Kirchner, by his girlfriend Martha. Together with Kirchner's partner Erna Schilling they would relocate to the Sertig valley to spend their summer days. These uninhibited excursions into the natural environment where the painters also bathed naked corresponded to their idealised notion of a harmonious unity between life and art, far removed from convention, academic traditions and established gender-role clichés. Painter and model communicated on a level of equality; they danced, played and talked to each other as equals. Inspired by this almost paradisical lifestyle were drawings such as the "Two Girls in Sertig Valley" from 1926. Their joyous, liberated joi de vivre flowed directly into the dynamic and expressive style of the artist. With sparse, yet confident and assured lines and strokes, he captured the figures and the natural world on paper. An ephemeral snapshot, which lives from the spontaneity of the observation and which is infused with the light and warmth of a summer's day in the mountainous forests of Davos.