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.