Die Brücke focused on urban figures in urban settings, emotional immediacy using intense colour, distorted body parts, and angular forms. Its members greatly admired Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, and Vincent van Gogh, and disliked the influence of Impressionism. Their first exhibition was in 1906 and based on the female nude.
Examples of Kirchner's painting from this period include Marzella (1909–1910), Standing Nude with Hat (1910), Street, Berlin (1913), Self-Portrait as a Soldier (1915), and Königstein Station (1916).
Kirchner's woodcuts include The Married Couple Müller (c.1919), Girls from Fehmarn (Fehmarn Mädchen) (c. 1910), and Slender Girl in Front of an Open Door (c. 1917). Two examples of his lithographs are Am Pirnaischen Platz, Dresden (1910) and Three Officers at Lunch (Kohnstamm Sanatorium) (1916). He also made etchings, usually self-portraits.
Kirchner later moved to Berlin in 1911 where he was very productive. However he enlisted in the Germany army in 1915, had a series of breakdowns, and was discharged. Kirchner developed problems with tuberculosis in his lungs, and moved to sanatoriums in Switzerland for this and intense nervousness. His paintings now focused on villages on the sides of the alps or nestled in mountain valleys, and the colour became purer and flat.
He was thought to have died by suicide in 1938, because of the large quality of his works confiscated or destroyed by the Nazis the previous year, pain from intestinal inflammation, and his deteriorating mental state due to drug addiction. However, because of the positioning of the bullet wounds in his head, the idea that he took his own life has been contested.
Later Kirchner paintings made in Switzerland include Davos in Summer (1925) and Sertig Valley in Autumn (1925).