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Pillow cover, (untitled), 1922–1924
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Pillow cover, (untitled),
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,

Pillow cover, (untitled),

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Ausstellungsstrasse 60
8031 Zurich
Museum map
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 94
8031 Zurich
  • (untitled) Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Pillow cover
Listen to the text

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s (1880–1938) textile designs include a pillow cover populated by a profusion of dancing figures. With its subject matter and formal properties, this work is closely related to his paintings.

On his pillow cover Tanz (Dance), which dates from the early 1920s, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner depicted four female artistes in a variety show flinging their muscular limbs around as chatting spectators look on. The focus is squarely on the central figures. The movements of the dancers, who are performing various stages of the choreography, are echoed by the flurry of activity among the guests in the audience to create a scintillating scene full of life. Kirchner skillfully captures the cinematic simultaneity of various impressions, heightening it further with an Expressionist color scheme. He had long been studying dance as a motif as well as dancing figures—both male and female—and depicted their physicality in various media. After moving to the mountains near Davos in 1917, the erstwhile city-dweller sought new inspiration in the mountain world and alpine customs, and the visionary painter of Berlin street scenes and characters from the demimonde became a landscape painter. But he apparently still stole away from his isolated mountain aerie from time to time to drink in the urban milieu again—the pillow with the dance scene offers proof. Elsa Bosshart-Forrer, a resident of Davos, executed it for Kirchner—along with other textile works—in a congenial manner in dense petit point embroidery and hallucinogenic colors. (Sabine Flaschberger)

Kissenplatte, Tanz, 1922–1924
Entwurf: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ausführung: Elsa Bosshart-Forrer
Material/Technik: Baumwolle, Wolle, Petit-Point-Stickerei
46.5 × 50 cm
Eigentum: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Erika Billeter (Hg.), Kunstgewerbemuseum, Sammlungskatalog 1: Europäische Textilien, Zürich 1968 / o.J.

Image credits

Kissenplatte, Tanz, 1922–1924, Entwurf: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ausführung: Elsa Bosshart-Forrer
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Kissenplatte, Alpsonntag, um 1928, Entwurf: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ausführung: Elsa Bosshart-Forrer
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Chaiselonguedecke, Alpaufzug, 1926, Entwurf: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ausführung: Lise Guyer
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Exhibition text
Textiles: Pictorial Solutions

In 1917, the painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) moved to Davos, where folk motifs increasingly influenced his work. On the pillow cover Dance from the early twenties, the focus is instead on urban artistes. The scene, rendered in petit point by Elsy Bosshart-Forrer, derives its appeal from its expressionist color scheme and the cinematic movement of muscular limbs, while the alpine Sunday scene with its strong division into layers is conceived instead as a static idyllic setting.

These modern images bear a surprising resemblance to the Coptic weaving from the sixth to eighth century. The finely woven pieces show ecstatic dancers and, in analogy to the alpine fauna, the aquatic world of the Nile.