Maps & Charts


Glossary: Die Brücke

English The Bridge, organization of Expressionist artists, founded in 1905 in Germany by four architectural students of the Dresden Technical School--Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who gave the group its name, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Other members of the organization were Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Otto Müller, the Swiss artist Cuno Amiet, the Finnish Symbolist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and the Dutch Fauve painter Kees van Dongen.

The paintings and prints by Die Brücke artists encompassed all varieties of subject matter--the human figure, landscape, portraiture, still life--executed in a simplified style that stressed bold outlines and strong colour planes, influenced by Primitivism. Kirchner and Heckel were influenced by African and Pacific island art that they saw in the Dresden ethnological museum; this Primitivism became an important element in Die Brücke style. Manifestations of angst, or anxiety, appear in varying degrees in the works of Die Brücke painters and generally distinguish their art from that of the French Fauvists, who also were indebted to primitive art but who treated form and colour in a more lyrical manner. Die Brücke art was also deeply influenced by the expressive simplifications of late German Gothic woodcuts and by the prints of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

The first Die Brücke exhibition, held in 1906 in the Seifert lamp factory in Dresden, marked the beginning of German Expressionism. From this date until 1913, regular exhibitions were held. (By 1911, however, Die Brücke's activities had shifted to Berlin, where several of the members were living.) The group also enlisted "honorary members" to whom they issued annual reports and gift portfolios of original prints, which are highly valued collector's items today.

Rifts, which had always taken place among the group's members, increased in the years after 1911. In 1913, provoked by Kirchner's highly subjective accounts of their activities in the Chronik der Kunstlergemeinschaft Brücke, the group disbanded.

In addition to painting deeply moving canvases of the struggles and sufferings of humanity, Die Brücke artists contributed to the revival of the woodcut, making it a powerful means of expression in the 20th century.


"Brücke, die" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.