In Part 3 of my investigation of Expressionism I am going to return to a discussion of the Die Brucke group of Kirchner , Heckl and Rottluff.
Wolf Dieter-Dube in his book on the Die Brucke traces their origin and development.
” The first monograph on the subject of Expressionism , by Paul Fechter contains an attempt at definition. Fechter took it to mean the German-counter movement against Impressionism parallel to Cubism in France and Futurism in Italy”. .
” The Revolution of young artists in Germany was led by Die Brucke (The Bridge) a group formed in Dresden in 1900. The nucleus the revolutionary cell was composed of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner , Erick Heckl and Karl Schmidt Rottluff “..
Kirchner and Heckl were both in their youth dissatisfied with the present development of art so looked for new forms of colour.
” The restless searching character observed in Kirchner and Heckl was caused by youthful dissatisfaction with the here and now. as painters they brought a frenzied dedication to their painting and tolerated no instructions”. .
” Since their Goal was the essence of Art above all form and colour Painting was not intrinsically more important to them than the graphic media. They favoured woodcuts”. .
Dieter-Dube shows the importance of the woodcut in the work of the Die Brucke artists.
” The Woodcut achieved its highest degree of artistic justification in the work of the Brucke. The solution it offered to Kirchner , Heckl and Schmidt-Rottluff in their search for the most direct and economic formal means of expressing the essence of a subject”. .
” The Brucke circle regarded the multiple reproduction of their work by means of prints as likely to be an effective way of reaching a wider public still”. .
Dieter-Dube now goes onto consider the most important member of the group Kirchner himself.
” Kirchner is the most important and the most gifted of the members of the Brucke the one possessing the boldest genius and the most strongly developed urge to experiment as well as a restlessness that continually drove him to explore new possibilities”. .
” He (Kirchner) now tackled the problem of form, in an amazingly logical fashion. The steady rhythms of his brushwork became more forceful in 1907 and the strokes grew longer. By 1908 his paint was churning impasto breaking out in a furiso “. .
Discussing Kirchner Dieter-Dube shows the brilliance of Kirchner and his use of colour and how he thickened and pasted the paint which no doubt he had observed from the great Post Impressionist Vincent van Gogh.
” His artistic drive was all in the direction of simplicity and expansive two dimensionalism of clear outline and pure planes of colour”. .
” Now at the height of his creative powers his senses alerted to the reception of every kind of experience Kirchner responded like a seismograph to the faintest tremor”. .
Dieter Dube observes that as well as his ferocious use of paint Kirchner was able to blend colours in a beautiful harmony as well as applying saturated colours.
” In the years that followed, the bold colours of the valley of Davos reinforced the artists palette. The daring difficult harmonies of the Berlin paintings disappeared. Full saturated colours could glow in the pure air. The angular forms of the Urban scenes were forgotten and horizontals and verticals were used to create peace and order”. .
” Heckl who possessed an almost mystical ideal of friendship and artistic unity in the common cause was not only the mediator who held the Brucke group together over the years but also their practical one who organised their affairs”. .
Dieter-Dube shows how Heckl unlike Kirchner wanted to control the use of colour and his D’Oeuvre is more controlled and restrained.
” But Heckl soon recognised the dangers of these wild , uncontrolled storms of colour. This instinctive way which no longer had the least connection with the logic of Post-Impressionism could not lead to the discovery of forms for him”. .
” The painting woodland pond 1910 shows how the excessive excitability of the early years is now disciplined and under control. planes defined by sharp angular contours fit together in a solid interlocked composition”. .
Heckl’s work had a strong attitude to Human forms but did not involve a social conscience.
” Many of the subjects in these years express Heckl’s strong human sympathies which however had nothing to do with social protest. The motif always has a personal application”. .
” Karl Schmidt- Rottluff from the beginning he represented the opposite pole to Kirchner who made a more or less explicit claim to be the spiritual and intellectual leader of the group”. .
Dieter Dube concludes his discussion of Die Brucke with comments on the differences of Schmidt-Rottluff and other members of Die Brucke.
” The influence of post impressionism of Van Gogh brought Schmidt-Rottluff the same freedom in the use of colour as the others. At the same time his orderly approach to creativity meant that he concentrated on a single subject Landscape”. .
” In 1912 Schmist-Rottluff reached the extreme limit of the possibilities of transpositions of the object. In took him only a few paintings to bring him to the brink of a form of expressionist abstraction while the Blaue reiter circle was also practising but Schmidt-Rottluff was not willing to sacrifice the power of explicit statement so the next stage in his development was in the direction of a more precise definition of the subject matter”. .
This concludes my Third part of my investigation into Expressionism . In Parts 4 & 5 I will discuss the collapse of the Die Brucke and the emergence of the Blaue Reiter group and the move towards Total abstraction .
- THE EXPRESSIONISTS. WOLF-DIETER DUBE :PG.19
- DITTO. PG.67