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Portrait of Otto Mueller

Vibrant colored print in black, yellow, red, and blue of man reclining.

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  • Vibrant colored print in black, yellow, red, and blue of man reclining.




Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
German, 1880-1938

About this artwork

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Portrait of Otto Mueller—with its vibrant, modulated color and penetrating psychological force—is emblematic of the artist’s innovative approach to technique and imagery. A pivotal figure of the German Expressionist movement, Kirchner first met Mueller, also a painter-printmaker, in 1910. Mueller then joined Die Brücke (The Bridge), the group Kirchner had helped found in 1905, which was instrumental in promoting Expressionism. The period between 1915 and 1919 marked Kirchner’s most concentrated and productive phase of work with portrait prints, which he made primarily as large-format woodcuts. In this depiction of Mueller, Kirchner used a spare, planar composition and broad areas of undifferentiated color to depict his subject’s sharp features. He painted on a single block with a brush and varying colors; thus, each print is unique. The cobalt-blue striated forms that emanate from the figure’s right and from the side of his head in this print are abstract representations of the painted bands that decorated Kirchner’s studio wall, against which Mueller posed. These bands, which Kirchner painted himself, exemplify his adoption of motifs and styles from Palauan art of the South Pacific and resonate with Mueller’s own fondness for African-inspired furniture and wall paintings. Indeed, his hieratic, frontal position may suggest his interest in Egyptian art.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


Portrait of Otto Mueller


Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Color woodcut with charcoal on cream wove paper


Image/block: 27.3 × 54.6 cm (10 3/4 × 21 1/2 in.); Sheet: 30.2 × 55 cm (11 15/16 × 21 11/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Eugene A. Solow in honor of Paulette Solow, Judy Solow Kleckner, Bryan Kleckner and Gabrielle Kleckner

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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