Die Brücke

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Fritz Bleyl, 1906: 'Brücke', lithographic poster for the first Die Brücke exhibition in Dresden, 1906
Kirchner, 1910: design of the poster for the exhibition of Die Brücke, in gallery Arnold in Dresden, 1910
Kirchner, 1914: 'View from the Window / Blick aus dem Fenster', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, U.S.
Erich Heckel, 1918: 'Portrait of a Man', a self-portrait in colored woodcut on paper; current location, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. U.S.
Otto Mueller, 1919: 'Three Nudes in a Landscape / Drei Akte in Landschaft', tempera on canvas; cuurent location: Brücke Museum, in Berlin

Die Brücke, in sourced art quotes. Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a group of young artists, who came together since 1905 - first in Dresden and later in Berlin - as a part of the whole art movement German Expressionism. Die Brücke rejected the approach of Impressionism in art and searched for intensive and emotional painting by using emotive and unbroken colors in strong forms. Brücke artists refused any abstraction.

Quotes of Die Brücke[edit]

Sorted chronologically, by date of the quote

Quotes, 1905 – 1914[edit]

  • With faith in evolution, in a new generation of creators and connoisseurs, we call together all youth. And as youths, who embody the future, we want to free our lives and limbs from the long-established older powers. Anyone who renders his creative drive directly and genuinely is one of us.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1906); his proclamation for the first exhibition at the Karl-Max Seifert lamp factory and showroom in September and October, 1906; as quoted in Styles, Schools and Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art, ed. Amy Dempsey (2010) Thames & Hudson. p. 74
  • ..and so we wish to nicely lift these boys [of Die Brücke] out of their not completely clean diapers and spoke of gestural impotence.
    • a critic in the 'Leipziger Volkszeitung', 1906; from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: ein Künstlerleben in Selbstzeugnissen, Andreas Gabelmann (Claire Albiez, translation); Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010, p. 28
  • To get straight to the point, the local group of artist called Die Brücke would reckon it a high honor to be able to welcome you as a member. Of course you will know as little about Die Brücke as we knew about you before your exhibition at Arnold's [gallery Arnold at Dresden]. Now, one of the aims of Die Brücke is to attract all the revolutionary and fermenting elements to itself – that's the meaning of the name Brücke [Bridge]. The group also arranges several exhibitions a year, which it sends on tour in Germany.. .Now, dear Herr Nolde, think as you like and what you like, we hope this offer is the proper price for your tempests od colour.
    • Quote in a letter of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff from Dresden, 1906 to Emil Nolde; as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 32
    • Nolde became a member for only a year and a half, probably because Nolde was much older than the other Brücke artists
  • Dreadful! Delirious! Horrible!
    • a critic in the 'The Flensburger Nachrichten', about the 1907 Brücke exhibit; from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: ein Künstlerleben in Selbstzeugnissen, Andreas Gabelmann (Claire Albiez, translation); Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010, p. 28
  • I was commissioned [in 1906] to do a ceiling-painting and an altar painting for the Saxon pavilion at the third German Arts and Crafts exhibition.. .I varied my tulips. But when I went in before the opening I was horrified to see that the fiery red had been toned down with streaks of grey.. .I gave furious vent to my feelings. Suddenly there was someone at my side, seconding my vituperation. It was Erich Heckel.. ..joyfully we discovered our total accord in the drive towards liberation, an art which charged forwards, unimpeded by conventions. And that was how I joined Die Brücke.
  • Die Brücke is an association of the young, the growing, the becoming. It is a product of surging fermentation, a cry for freedom from boundaries, a quavering trepidation for that which lies outside of what was up to now allowed, outside of what was artistically possible up to now.
    • notion of Friedrich KoehlerHaussen, c. 1908; as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: ein Künstlerleben in Selbstzeugnissen, Andreas Gabelmann (Claire Albiez, translation); Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010, p. 28
    • writer and journalist Friedrich KoehlerHaussen was a passive, paying member of Die Brücke and got in this way several times prints of portfolios; this allowed die Brücke artists to reach a wider audience through their work; they gained 68 members in this way during the early years
  • ..out of the necessity to forge a new path for the attempts at creating a new German art.
    • quote about Die Brücke, in a catalog in 1910, of Galerie Arnold in Dresden; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ed.; Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 267 (transl. Claire Albiez )
  • It is impossible to explain the latest works of these wild men | that is, the artists of Der Blaue Reiter, and Die Brücke, [working in Munich, and Berlin] in terms of a formal evolution and a reinterpretation of Impressionism. The loveliest prismatic colors and the famous Cubist style have become meaningless in terms of the objectives of the iconoclasts. Their thinking has a different aim: with their labor, they want to create symbols for their era. symbols that belong on the altars of the coming spiritual religions behind which the technical producer will vanish.
    • Quote of Franz Marc, in the Almanac of the 'Blaue Reiter', 1912; as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 95
  • ..the Fauves of Germany!
    • In: Expressionism, a German Intuition, 1905-1920: [Exhibition 1980-81]; Paul Vogt, Horts Keller, Martin Urban, Wolf-Dieter Dube, and Eberhard Roters; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1980, p. 7
    • how Franz Marc classified Die Brücke artists, c. 1911-12
  • The atelier was under the roof. Inhabiting this space was forbidden due to fire code restrictions, but staying and working there was allowed. We therefore had to avoid the impression that these were our living quarters. The most necessary furniture had to disappear into the attic during the day. And so the place was decorated purely with curtains. A curtain hung in front of the entrance door, a second one in front of the oven heating [...] an adjoining room was hidden by a curtain with abstractedly patterned batik.
    • Karl Schmidt-Rottluff; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ed.; Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 312; Claire Louise Albiez, translation
    • In addition to defying societal standards, die Brücke artists defied housing laws: the ateliers that they worked and lived in were forbidden to be used as homes.
  • The struggle for existence is very difficult here [Berlin], but the possibilities are also greater. I hope that we can create a fruitful new school and convince many new friends of the value of our efforts.
    • quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, in a letter to Louise Schiefler, from Berlin, 5 November 1911; as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Grosstad, Eros und Natur, aus der verborgenen Sammlungen der Region, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst Germany, 2005, pp. 113-114
    • about the move of Die Brücke artists from Dresden to Berlin, Kirchner was optimistic in the beginning
  • Life is unfixed when one lives in Berlin, where one has to fight for a living. It is painfully base here. I see that a fine, free culture cannot be created under these circumstances and wish to leave as soon as I have overcome this big slump.
    • End of 1911; as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: ein Künstlerleben in Selbstzeugnissen, Andreas Gabelmann (transl. Claire Louise Albiez); Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010, p. 45
    • remark of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, shortly after their move to Berlin - the bustle, tempo, and anonymity of city-life soon got tough to Kirchner and the other Brücke members
  • ..shameless.. ..[and that] this weed overgrows and chokes all healthy life and always diminishes us in the name of the freedom of art.
    • Quote of de:Anton von Werner, in a letter, 7 Dec. 1911; as quoted in: Die Wilhelminische Ära als nervöses Zeitalter, oder: Die Nerven als Netz zwischen Tempo- und Körpergeschichte, Joachim Radkau, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 20. Jahrg., H. 2, Sozialgeschichtliche Probleme des Kaiserreichs. April – June, (Claire Louise Albiez, translation), 1994, p 123
    • in his attempt to censor the group, Von Werner wrote to the minister of religious and educational affairs, about the woodcut of a nude woman smelling a flower, on the cover of a Brücke-publication
  • [Their] things [works of Die Brücke artists] must be exhibited. But I think it is incorrect to immortalize them in the document [Almanac?] of our modern art (and, this is what our book ought to be) or as a more or less decisive, leading factor. At any rate I am against large reproductions [for Die Brücke paintings in The Blaue Reiter Almanac].
    • Kandinsky, in a letter, to Franz Marc, ( 2 Febr 1912), quoted in 'Lankheit 20'; as quoted in Movement, Manifesto, Melee: The Modernist Group, 1910-1914, Milton A. Cohen, Lexington Books, Sep 14, 2004, p. 71
  • one day [c. 1905-07], Kirchner brought with him a volume from some bookstore with pictures of Meier-Graefe about the modern French artists. We were enthralled.
    • Fritz Bleyl, as quoted in: Brücke' Zeichnungen, Aquarelle, Druckgraphik, Magdalena M. Moeller; Verlag Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart 1992, p. 14; as quoted by Claire Louise Albiez (incl. translation), Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus; submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida, May, 2013 p. 8
  • Die Brücke held collective exhibits, which solidified the unity of the group. The visibility of the group can be attributed to Kirchner’s fighting spirit and Heckel’s organizational talent, for in the 8 years of their association, the group had over 70 group exhibits in Germany and abroad..
  • ..the unrelenting Berlin forced each one of us to struggle through on the most individual paths, so that our communal living [of 'Brücke', in 1913] fell apart. In addition, the knowledge of the individual members had developed so far that the individual form differed, although the overall goal of the group remained the same.
    • a later remark of Max Pechstein; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, ed. Anita Beloubek-Hammer; Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 266 (transl. Claire Albiez)
    • Pechstein, about the cause of the breakup of Die Brücke group in 1913: the harsh city-life of Berlin. Pechstein himself already was removed from the Brücke group in 1912 (one year before the definite break) because he went against the self-imposed rule of die Brücke to only exhibit together - when he decided to show also his art at the 'Berliner Secession'.
  • The official end of die Brücke came in 1913, when Kirchner composed the tensely worked-on 'Chronik der Brücke' (Chronicle of the Brücke). It attempted to speak for the remaining members but was unfortunately fatalistically final. When Kirchner began to assemble copies of this text, which claimed himself as the group's leader, the other members rejected it and disbanded die Brücke. Erich Heckel wrote on 26 May 1913 that 'differences arose that hindered the publication of the 'Chronik' and brought us to the agreement of dissolving die Brücke group.'

Quotes, 1915 - 1935[edit]

  • We [the artists of Die Brücke] were overjoyed to discover our complete unison in the urge for liberation, for an art surging forward, unrestricted by convention.
    • from a note of Pechstein; as quoted in Expressionism, a German Intuition, 1905-1920, [exhibition-catalogue 1980-81]; Paul Vogt, Horts Keller, Martin Urban, Wolf-Dieter Dube, and Eberhard Roters; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1980, p. 5
  • My time for circuses, and 'cocottes' and company is over [referring to his wild 'Brücke'-years in Berlin]. I made what I could out of it, and I do not think it had been done in that way before. Otherwise there is nothing to link me with those 'événements'. During my 7 years in Berlin I let the whole essence of that kind of thing seep into me so thoroughly that I now know it back to front, and can leave it. Now I have other tasks, and they lie here {Switzerland].. .I can not go down again into the throng. I am more than ever afraid of crowds.
    • Quote, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1919), his quote from a letter to architect Henry van de Velde, Frauenkirch, 5 July 1919; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 224-225
  • A happy coincidence brought together [in 'Die Brücke'] the really talented men whose characters and gifts, even in human terms, left them with no other choice than the profession of artist. This form of living, of dwelling and working, though peculiar for a regular human being, was not a deliberate 'epater le bourgeois', but simply a very naive and pure necessity to harmonize art and life. And it was precisely this more than anything else that so tremendously influenced the forms of present-day art. Of course, it was mostly misunderstood and totally distorted, for there [the will] fashioned the form and gave it meaning, whereas here the unfamiliar form is affixed to habit, like a top hat on a cow.
    • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, in his Diary, 1923; as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 93
  • ..and the first thing for he artists [of Die Brücke ] was free drawing from the free human figure in the freedom of nature.. .We drew and we painted. Hundreds of paintings a day, with talk and fooling in between, the artists joining the models before the easel and vice versa. All the encounters of everyday life were incorporated in our memories in this way. The studio became the home of the people who were being drawn; they learned from the artists and the painters from them. The picture [ made] took on immediate and abundant life.
    • Quote from Kirchner's Diary, 1923; as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 28-29
  • When we met in Berlin [1910], I arranged with Heckel and Kirchner that the three of us would go and work together on the lakes of Moritzburg near Dresden. We had long been familiar with the region, and we knew that we would have the opportunity tp paint nudes in the open air without interference.. .We had to find two or three people who were not professional models and would therefore pose for us without falling into studio routines.. ..we artists set out early every morning, laden with our equipment, followed by the models with bags full of good things toe at and drink. We lived in complete harmony, we worked and went swimming.. ..each of us [three] executed a great number of paintings and drawings.
    • Pechstein is later recalling the Summer of 1910; as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 30
  • ..we didn't have the intention at all of founding a new style.. .What we wanted, was a refusal of the outmoded, overly-cultivated art practices.
    • Schmidt-Rottluff; as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner und Die 'Brücke: Selbstbildnisse, Künstlerbildnisse, Jutta Hülsewig-Johnen & Egging Björn; Kerber, Bielefeld 2005, p. 174; as quoted by Louise Albiez (incl. translation), Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus; submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida, May, 2013 p. 9

Quotes, 1935 and later[edit]

  • [that all differences among the former Brücke members should be put in the past and that] ..every individual conflict must be silenced and that everyone join together in the name of the whole, that is for our modern German art.
    • Kirchner, in a letter to Hans Fehr, 1937; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ed.; Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 338 (transl. (transl. Claire Albiez)
    • When die Brücke was shown at the infamous 'Degenerate Art' show in Munich by the Nazi's in 1937, Kirchner wrote this to Hans Fehr
  • The year 1906.. ..an important date for the history of the new German art and for the decisive role that the black-and-white arts played therein!. ..A characteristic, in a certain sense epoch-making, manner of woodcutting came to maturity.. .Even more than with Munch or Nolde, one receives from the painters of the Brücke the impression that the formal language of the woodcut also influenced their manner of expression in painting.
    • Hartlaub, in 'Neue deutsche Graphik', pp. 47-49; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 56
  • But the four young men who had founded the Brücke in Dresden in the preceding year were not especially interested in theory. Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff were between twenty-one and twenty-five years of age in 1905; all were students of architecture and in any generally accepted sense purely self-taught as artists.
    • Quote from: 'Portfolios', by Alexander Dückers; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 67
  • The name 'Brücke', or 'Bridge', is thought to have derived from the writing of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) who saw man as a bridge rather then an end point. In the 'Brücke' program [ of 1906] these young men call on 'all youth' who expressed themselves 'directly and authentically' to break with 'older, well-established powers'. This sense of rebellion can be considered part of a broader German youth movement, reacting to the effects of rapid industrialization and the rise of a moneyed middle-class, and against the complacency that was identified with the Wilhelminian era of German ruler Kaiser Wilhelm II.
    • Quote of Deborah Wye, in 'Introduction: Stetting the Stage', Kirchner and the Berlin street, MOMA, New York 2008, p. 20
  • Brücke's stated aim was 'to obtain a freedom of movement and of life for ourselves..'. And Kirchner later described his artist friends as those, 'whose way of life, home and work was strange to the normal person.. ..and was driven by the very naive idea and pure need to bring life and art into harmony with one another.' 'Brücke' artists often worked in a communal fashion in each other's studios, which they decorated, sometimes collectively. They also vacationed together, along with their models and girlfriends. Kirchner characterized the group as 'one big family'. When members traveled, postcards with drawings would be exchanged, continuing the artistic dialogue, whether from the studio, an ethnographic museum, or a dance hall.
    • Deborah Wye, in 'Introduction: Stetting the Stage', Kirchner and the Berlin street, MOMA, New York 2008, pp. 21-22
  • Van Gogh, whose work was exhibited in Dresden in 1905, just as the group [Die Brücke] was founded, was a major influence in his patchy brushstroke and bold color choices. Fritz Bleyl responded that it [the Van Gogh exhibition] was 'a big, impressive surprise.' The group became so influenced by van Gogh by 1907, that Nolde suggested changing the group's name to 'Van Goghiana'. Heckel's art teacher Frits Schumacher in 1905 blamed their uncharacteristic approach to art on: 'the influence of a van Gogh exhibit, which could be seen at this time in Dresden'.
  • The use of multiple prints meant that the public could be more active in the reception of their art, since it was solicited with subscriptions. Prints that included posters, manifestos, stationary, announcements, annual reports, and membership cards were all production woodcuts and lithographs. In addition to these subscription prints, die Brücke produced six portfolios devoted to the work of a single or several paying members between 1906 and 1911.. ..the use of advertisement of an artist or artist group as its own form of artistic expression was uncommon at this time. The fact that die Brücke utilized membership prints is not only a testament to their unity as an artist group but also to their revolutionary approach to the art world.
  • When die Brücke was shown at the infamous 'Degenerate Art' ('Entartete Kunst') show in Munich in 1937, Die Brücke's works became major victims under the Nazi's term of 'degenerate art': many of Heckel's works were confiscated, the works of Otto Mueller:Mueller were almost eliminated, and many Brücke works remain missing.

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