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Artists' association

1905 in Dresden
1913 in Berlin


The architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff were filled with revolutionary ambition when, in Dresden in 1905, they founded the artists’ association the Brücke – a nucleus of Expressionism. They called upon their generation to paint what moved them “directly and authentically”. Their goal was no longer the portrayal of subjects in a realistic manner. The aim was to record the essence of the subject in an artistic manner, with two-dimensional compositions, vivid colours and rapid brushstrokes. The artists focused intensively on nude portraits, which they depicted in direct opposition to the rigid poses of the academic tradition. In their search for a spontaneity of expression they developed the so-called fifteen-minute nude, in which they aimed to record their models and capture their natural movements in a sketch completed in a quarter of an hour. Other preferred subjects of the Brücke artists included scenes painted en plein air, which they executed during joint outings to the Moritzburg Lakes. They express a yearning for the primitive lifestyle of an era before civilisation evolved, found in the objects of folk art from Africa and the South Seas with which they decorated their studios. In addition to Max Pechstein, Emil Nolde and Otto Mueller, Kees van Dongen and Cuno Amiet also joined the Brücke. However, their role models Edvard Munch and Henri Matisse refused the membership that was offered to them. The Brücke artists’ rejection of the academic ideal of art earned them public criticism under the empire of Wilhelm II. Mocked as “Hottentots in tailcoats”, they nonetheless succeeded in establishing links to the international avant-garde within only a few years. Their sensuous-impulsive painting continues to determine our image of Expressionism in Germany to this day.

Persons connected to Brücke

Persons belonging to Brücke