Erich Heckel

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portrait by Kirchner c. 1906-1910: Erich Heckel - painting in open air

Erich Heckel (31 July 1883 in Döbeln - 27 January 1970 in Radolfzell) was a German painter artist and print-maker; he was a founding member of the Expressionist artist-group Die Brücke ('The Bridge') which existed 1905-1913.

Quotes of Erich Heckel[edit]

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes of Erich Heckel
Erich Heckel, 1910: 'Sitzende Fränzi / Sitting Fränzi', woodcut on the cover-front of the catalog of Die Brücke artist-group - later quote of Heckel, on his wood-cuts: '..[with] a short cobbler knife, and without a pré-sketch, the hand cuts freely into the wood - a woodcut, just like it would work on paper with the pen'
Erich Heckel, 1910: 'Nelly and Sidi (Heckel), dancing in the studio of Erich Heckel', photo by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1910
Erich Heckel, 1915: 'Snow Landscape', tempera on canvas?
Erich Heckel, 1915: 'Two Wounded Man', wood-cut print on paper; - info: Heckel was stationed in World War 1. in Belgium with the Red Cross medical corps. This is one of several woodcuts in which he depicted the injured soldiers and sailors in his care
Erich Heckel, 1916: 'Praying woman', tempera-painting on canvas; - quote of Heckel, Christmas 1915: 'How glad I was to paint that for the soldiers [in World War 1.] it is very beautiful, how much respect and even love for art there is in human beings, in spite of everything..'
Erich Heckel, 1918: 'Portrait of a Man', a self-portrait in colored woodcut on paper
Erich Heckel, 1927: 'Marienfeste bei Würzburg', tempera on canvas?
  • We saw your [ Cuno Amiet's ] work with feelings of admiration and enthusiasm.. .Our group [ Die Brücke ] would be exceedingly glad to find in you a comrade in arms and a champion of its cause.
    • Quote of Heckel, in a letter of 1 September 1906, to the Swiss artist Amiet; as cited by Günter Krüger, in Die Künstlergemeinschaft Brücke und die Schweiz; as quoted in 'Portfolios', Alexander Dückers; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; by Museum Associates, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 70
    • Amiet's radically simplified art-style obviously attracted the younger artists of Die Brücke
  • I finished my first woodcut in Dresden in 1905 after the Xylographic art, cutting out of the hard boxwood the clean sketches with the slate pencil. Then followed the rounded iron, to arrive at the woodcut more freely through the simply ripped out sketch on the log (alder, lime tree, poplar), which would be utilized from here on out. Then finally came a short cobbler knife, and without a pré-sketch, the hand cuts freely into the wood a woodcut, just like it would work on paper with the pen.
    • In: Brücke' Zeichnungen, Aquarelle, Druckgraphik, Magdalena M. Moeller; Verlag Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart 1992, p. 21; 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.12
    • Heckel later summarized in this way his woodcut developments, mainly developed during his years in Die Brücke
  • What we [Brücke-artists] had to remove ourselves from [the German bourgeois mores] was clear; where we were heading was certainly less clear. (original German: Wovon wir weg mussten, war uns klar. Wohin wir kommen würden, stand allerdings weniger fest).
    • Quote of Heckel in: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: ein Künstlerleben in Selbstzeugnissen, Andreas Gabelmann; Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010; as cited in 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. 24
  • ..differences arose that hindered the publication of the 'Chronik' (written by Kirchner and brought us to the agreement of dissolving Die Brücke group.
    • In a note, 26 May 1913; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ed.; Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 266 (transl. Claire Albiez)
  • Brücke will remain in the inner sense; only the outer organizational thing should be dissolved.
    • In a letter to Amiet, Fall of 1913; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ed.; Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 266 (transl. Claire Albiez)
  • How glad I was to paint that for the soldiers it is very beautiful, how much respect and even love for art there is in human beings, in spite of everything, and who would have thought that my style, which seemed so modern and incomprehensible to critics and public at rotten exhibitions in the cities, would now be able to speak and convey something to men to whom I make a gift of it.
    • In a letter to de:Gustave Schiefler, from Flanders, at Christmas 1915; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 62
    • Heckel wrote Schiefler about his 'Madonna'-painting, he painted in Ostende, Flander in 1915. Heckel was a medical orderly in Flanders together with Max Beckmann, in World War 1. Both artists got a lot of free time in the army for their artistic activities. The 'Madonna' got destroyed in World War 2. [1]
  • He [ Otto Mueller ] himself omitted certain things in his pictures that his contemporaries deemed to be of importance, in order to capture the essence.. ..with the greatest possible simplicity.
    • In a letter to Emmy Mueller, 1953; as quoted in Otto Mueller: A Stand-Alone Modernist, Dieter W. Posselt
  • The first encounter with Otto Mueller's paintings was in Berlin, at the showing of the 'Rejects of the Berlin Secession'. which took place at the Galerie Macht in the spring of 1910. And we met him personally the very same day in his studio on Mommsenstrasse. This meeting was significant for all of us and occurred at a fruitful moment; and, as a matter of course, he belonged to Die Brücke community from then on.
    • a later recall of Heckel; 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

Quotes about Erich Heckel[edit]

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes about Erich Heckel
  • I still remember the first time [ c. 1903-04] when Heckel who had started to draw a plant in the broad white and black manner of a woodcut, stopped bothering to observe the overlapping and the movements of the leaves and instead got down something on the paper that bore a distant resemblance to the overall form of the object. When I criticized the drawing for its carelessness he invoked his right to stylize.. .He said that the only important thing so far as he was concerned was the seizure of a total expression.
    • Quote from a memoir of art-teacher de:Fritz Schumacher, at the Hochschule, Architecture in Dresden; as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 23
  • When I did not want to be satisfied with the hastiness of his [Heckel's] drawing, he called upon his right of stylization. I presented the view: one must first learn to draw properly, only then is one allowed to stylize.. ..but I did not convince him at all. He was of the mind that only came down to the creation of an overall impression and this is what the case was for him. From this point on, the Brücke people began to draw highly 'un-orderly,' to my horror.. .But in reality, the future was breaking through here..
    • Quote of art-teacher de:Fritz Schumacher, at the Hochschule, Architecture in Dresden; as quoted in Brücke' Zeichnungen, Aquarelle, Druckgraphik, Magdalena M. Moeller (Claire Louise Albiez, translation); Verlag Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart 1992, p. 17
  • In 1905 I had the opportunity to observe Heckel outside the foor walls of the art room. I took thirty of my students [in architecture] on an excursion.. ..I found him in front of Grünewald's Pieta.. ..and with the greatest of care he had copied the hands that are movingly wrung over the dead body in his sketchbook.. .Then later [ in the train through the country] he suddenly pulled out his sketchbook again and began to scrawl passionate smudges on its pages.. .. and a great roar of 'Heckel's sketching' and shouts of laughter ran through the whole coach.. .When the time came [some days later] I was delighted to find that the boys gave the first price to Heckel's sketchbook, although most of it seemed rather mad to them.
  • As far as I can see, as a printmaker Erich Heckel essentially developed out of the woodcut. Because it imposes the necessity to simplify, it is a good means of education.. .Sometimes it charmed him to take advantage of the nature and quality of specific woods; in that way he cut the weather-beaten face of an old man in oak that had lain in the moor for hundreds of years.
    • Quote by de:Gustav Schiefler, in Erich Heckels graphisches Werk, 'Das Kunstblatt 1.', no. 9 (1918): 284; as cited 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, pp. 53-54
  • Heckel was inclined to feel that he dared not advance further on this path without inflicting violence on the style of the woodcut. He found the lithograph as a substitute.
    • In: de:Gustav Schiefler, Erich Heckels graphisches Werk, 'Das Kunstblatt 1.', no. 9 (1918): 284; 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. 54
  • He often got up at night in order to seize that seen within, which quickly with a crayon, quickly with a broad brush, he brought onto the stone, and the use of acid allowed him to bring out the finest and most capricious tones. Through all the preciosity of the treatment these works preserve exactly the characteristic features of the lithographic technique.
    • In: de:Gustav Schiefler, Erich Heckels graphisches Werk, 'Das Kunstblatt 1.', no. 9 (1918) p. 284; 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. 54
  • Landscapes became more important and more numerous when Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff decided to make their first trip [together] to Dangast in 1907. Heckel's paintings at this stage still show the same violent brushwork as his friends', modeled on Van Gogh. The pictures are set down on the canvas spontaneously and quickly, with short curving strokes. The predominant colours are saturated reds, greens and blues.. .But Heckel soon recognized the dangers of these wild, uncontrolled storms of colors.. ..the reflection, the intellectual discipline, characteristic of Heckel, are already apparent by 1908..
  • Theodor Däubler, one of the chief representatives of German Expressionist prose.. ..frequently spoke of the asceticism of Die Brücke.. ..certainly a succinct expression of Heckel's [early] style. Heckel developed a lyrical defined form. [during the formation of Die Brücke ]
    • Quote of Peter Selz, in German Expressionist Painting, Peter Selz, University of California Press, 1974, p. 74
  • In the days that I spent in Dresden [before 1911].. ..I was together with Kirchner and Heckel a great deal.. .Here they led a singular bohemian life, liberated from any ordering of day-times and mealtimes; when they had the impulse they worked the whole night through and slept through the morning. I was convinced that they not infrequently lived on coffee, cake, and cigarettes.. .When the lamps were lit, we sat on benches and crouched over the batiked fabrics that were spread around the low table and looked at the portfolios with hand drawings and printed sheets; all the time strange, grotesque sculptures peered over our shoulders. The two showed me how they etched their lithographs, printed their etchings, and Kirchner drew two.. ..portraits of me with the dry-point needle.
    • de:Gustav Schiefler, Meine Graphiksammlung, 1974; editor, Gerhard Schack. Publisher, Christians, p. 5; 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. 41 – note 14
  • Heckel however, reacted to the turbulent life of the metropolis [Berlin] with a retreat towards the private and a concentration on the human condition. His melancholy scenes from this time period are filled with resignation and world-weariness, such as his 1913 woodcut 'Liegende' (Reclining Woman). It depicts his significant other, and later wife, Siddi sleeping in what appears to be a seated position but on a flat surface. Combined with the red oval surrounding her, this has the effect of creating a sort of cocoon around her, especially since the rest of the image is rendered in black and white. The slashes outside of this cocoon shape make it seem like an external force attempting to disturb her. For the time being, she is protected by her red cocoon and seems to be in a deep sleep as judged by her slightly drooping mouth. Yet her environment is encroaching on her peace, mirroring the events of this time leading up to the first world war.
  • Quote of Claire Louise Albiez, in: Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus; submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida, May 2013, p. 51

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