Though unfamiliar to many, the work of German-born artist Ernst Kirchner helped to change the course of modern art.
Andrew Robison, curator of a recent exhibit of modern German prints at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, said that while Kirchner is not well-known, it should be as familiar a name as Picasso: "Because Kirchner in many ways in the first part of the 20th Century parallels Picasso in being the dominant artist for his country," he told CBS News' Margaret Brennan.
Pictured: "Russian Dancers" (1909), color lithograph by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Born on May 6, 1880, in Aschaffenburg, Germany, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was an early proponent of Expressionism, a style pioneered by Kirchner and a small collective of artists who called themselves Die Brucke ("The Bridge") - a link from classical art to the avant garde.
Pictured: "Self-Portrait" (1934/1937), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
The art was frantic. The Bridge collective worked fast - sometimes taking just 15 minutes to capture a scene. The images distorted physical reality for emotional effect.
"The idea was to move quickly, capture it quickly," said Robison. "Capture life while it's on the run, you know. And that sense of joy, sense of love of life is very much characteristic of Kirchner, certainly until the First World War."
Pictured: "Cake-Walk" (1911), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Two Nudes [obverse]" (1907), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Female Nude (Weiblicher Akt)" (1908), woodcut on blotting paper, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Three Bathers By Stones"
"If you think of [Kirchner's] early works, then you think of nudes - nude women, nude men in the studio, making love, posing," said curator Andrew Robison. "But not posing in an academic sense, [such as] lying on a sofa, sitting in a chair. You think of going out to swim. Did a lot of swimming. Skinny-dipping. Always went swimming nude."
"Three Bathers by Stones" (1913), color lithograph, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Houses in Dresden"
"Houses in Dresden" (1909/1910), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Fränzi Reclining" (1910), crayon on yellow paper, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Marcella" (1910/1911), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Bather on the Beach"
"Bather on the Beach" (1912/1913), black crayon with blue and gray wash, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Four Wooden Sculptures"
"Four Wooden Sculptures" (1912), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Kirchner's daring depictions of prostitutes and the street life of Berlin and Dresden in the early 1900s illustrated a world in turmoil.
Pictured: "Potsdamer Platz" (1914), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Berlin Street Scene" (1913), by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Five Women on the Street"
"Five Women on the Street" (1914), woodcut on blotting paper, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Qualen der Liebe"
Pictured: "Qualen der Liebe (Pangs of Love)" (1915), color woodcut from two blocks on wove paper, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Kirchner's life took a dark turn with the First World War. He joined the German army, but a mental breakdown got him discharged. A morphine and alcohol addiction would haunt him for life.
"Summer in Davos"
Kirchner sought help at a sanitarium in the Swiss Alps. The cold, dry air in Davos, Switzerland, was considered therapeutic. Kirchner regained his health, and he later moved into a house in Davos, which doubled as his studio.
The calm Alpine lifestyle marked an artistic rebirth. Majestic mountain views inspired him, and his unusual color choices exploded off the page.
Pictured: "Summer in Davos" (1925), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Self-Portrait with Model"
"Self-Portrait with Model" (1910/1926), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Self-Portrait" (1928), watercolor over crayon, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
"Head of Dr. Bauer"
Pictured: "Head of Dr. Bauer" (1933), color woodcut on Japan paper, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
As the Nazis climbed to power in Germany, Hitler labeled much modern art "degenerate," including Kirchner's. The Nazis confiscated or destroyed 600 pieces of his work, and rich clients stopped buying.
"Now he's being called un-German," said the National Gallery's Andrew Robison. "His works are being removed, some are being destroyed. They're being cleaned out of Germany so that in his own country his work will not be known."
"Winter Landscape in Moonlight"
"Winter Landscape in Moonlight" (1919), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, was seized by the Nazis as an example of "degenerate art."
In March of 1938, the Nazis invaded nearby Austria, and Kirchner himself felt besieged.
"The Nazis were 12 miles away from Davos," said Robison. "Kirchner is sitting there in his mountain house with his paintings and his drawings, his prints, his sculpture and so forth, and he got more and more this idea, 'My God, they're 12 miles away and they destroyed my art in Germany and now they're coming for me.' He could just imagine that."
Despondent, Kirchner shot himself in the heart. He was just 58.
"Dodo With a Large Fan"
"Dodo With a Large Fan" (1910), oil on canvas, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
The painting - one of many by Kirchner of Doris Grosse, his lover and favorite model - sold at auction in 2007 for $12.9 million. And recently, another of Kirchner's street scenes sold for $38 million.
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By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan