Brücke: The Birth of Expressionism 1905-1913
Text by Reinhold Heller.
“Anyone who directly and genuinely renders what drives him to create is one of us,” proclaimed the manifesto of Die Brücke (The Bridge), a close-knit group of artists who first met in Dresden in 1905. Its founding members were four Jugendstil architecture students: Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Eschewing the contemporary academic styles and subjects, these four artists instead looked to their German art heritage to make "a bridge" with the past, favoring such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder. They also drew on Fauvist and Primitivist art in their quest for unhindered expression and, with this combination of resources, propelled German art into the twentieth century. In works by Die Brücke, color diverged from nature and became a record of emotion; forms were radically simplified, or exaggerated and distorted; bohemian subject matter argued for a Socialist politics. Their nudes, landscapes and urban scenes--featuring depictions of dances, cabarets, cafés and the sorts of street encounters that were typical of Berlin in the years after 1911--are among the greatest works produced by early-twentieth-century artists. Containing important paintings, sculptures and prints by Heckel, Kirchner, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, this invaluable volume is a definitive record of the birth of Expressionism.