Kirchner’s Answer is Paradoxically, Challengingly Painter-nalistic: “The Nudity of the Story-Teller’s Body”


E.L. Kirchner, “Erzahlende” (“Milli Telling a Story”), 1909

Is the body of the story-teller relevant to her story-telling? Is her nudity important for her proclivity and desire to tell stories? What in general are the subjective priorities of relevance in relation to story-telling function? Which aspects of the story-teller’s personality are more important and which are less for her story-telling? – Is it the story itself, the human mind composing or/and reciting the story, the human soul identifying with it or/and with its meaning, the subjective experiences which found its way into story or/and influenced its style, can it be story-teller‘s face, words she uses while constructing or reciting her story, the intonational characteristics of her voice, her body language, and finally, the anatomical pattern of her body or how about the fact of being nude or dressed?

Kirchner turns over the usual scale of relevance and makes… the nudity of a story-teller the story-teller. He makes the human body as important for intellectual and emotional self-expression as the human face and human speech are recognized to be. He makes, in relation to human expressiveness, the human body the human soul.

To give a story is, for Milli, an innocent body uncovering. To open her lips for her is to make her body opened. Her two eyes play different melodies – the left eye (sharp – drawn by the tip of a pencil) is the eye of the story, the right one (blurry) is the eye of the body (bodiness) – of the womb of the story, its fleshy origin. Story-telling is the equivalent of giving birth (to the story) – a sublime (light) birth.

But telling story is also a dance – like the gaze of her left eye is sharp the left leg is the dancing leg: a leg of a dancing cheer of giving subliminal birth. Her right arm is like her right leg – like the right leg provides the support, fundament for her story-telling, the right arm “has written” it in Milli’s mind. Like her left leg is celebrating the birth of story-telling, her left arm is giving away her story, is communicating it.

Milli’s body is the author of her performance of story-telling, like her hair is a thousand pencil drawings of the perception of the listeners of her story and viewers of Kirchner’s work.


Young Ernst Ludwig Kirchner looks amazingly “modern”, as if he is living today in 21st century.


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) traumatized by hate of Nazis who considered him “degenerate painter” and removed his works from the museums