The Artists' Association "Brücke" - Chronology

On June 7th, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, four students of architecture at the Technical University of Dresden, founded the artists' association "Brücke" (Bridge). Their aim was to break to new grounds in art by rejecting academic traditions. Working together very closely they searched for free artistic expression. The early works show the stimulus of Neoimpressionism and Art Nouveau; the artists showed particular interest in an exhibition of Van Gogh.

Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and the Swiss painter Cuno Amiet joined the group. The artists attracted public interest with their first exhibitions. Furthermore, they sought passive members, who, by paying an annual fee, would recieve portfolios with graphic works. They would also be kept informed about the latest activities of the group. With new inspiration and radical thought, Kirchner carved the programme of the group in wood: "Believing in development, in a new generation of those who create and those who enjoy, we call together the youth of today. And as a youth which bears the future, we aim to create space to live and work, as opposition to the well-established, older powers. Everyone who reproduces, directly and without illusion, whatever he senses the urge to create, belongs to us."

Nolde and Bleyl left the "Brücke". Searching for uncorrupted simplicity in nature, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff traveled to the fishing village of Dangast near Oldenburg for the first time. Kirchner and Pechstein were working in Goppeln near Dresden. In the following summer, Kirchner discovered Fehmarn, an island in the Baltic Sea, for himself. The artists presented the results of their work in a number of grand-scale exhibitions which were touring several cities in Germany as well as in Europe. They were now influenced by the French School of Fauvism. 1909 While at the lakes of Moritzburg in the vicinity of Dresden, the artists worked together very closely: drawing, painting and bathing in harmony with nature. They now realized their idea of a narrow unity oof art and life. The naked human body in nature was the focus of their interest. The intense collaboration culminated in the independent style of the "Brücke": luminous contrasts of colour, large and simplified forms which are reduced to the essential, and an impulsive brush stroke are characteristic of their new style.

The "Brücke" joined the "Neue Secession" in Berlin. Otto Mueller became a member of the group. An intense study of the so-called "primitive" art, of the South Seas and Africa, is discernible in this period. The paintings and woodcuts of this year signify a climax in the work of the "Brücke" and in German Expressionism.

In autumn, all of the artists came to Berlin for good. The atmosphere of the metropole and influences of teh international avant garde (cubism and futurism) caused a deep change in style. During the summer months, the artists searched, in contrast to the hectic life of the big city, for the quietness of various places at the North and Baltic Seas.

The "brücke" participated in the famous "Sonderausstellung" in Cologne. Pechstein left the group. The "Brücke" established contacts with the Munich artists' association "Blauer Reiter". The common "Brücke" style was now devided into several individual styles. Most famous: Kirchner's scenes of Berlin's night life show in their nervous brush strokes the ambiguous atmosphere of the modern capital. 1913 As a consequence of internal differences and struggle, the "Brücke" was dissolved. Today, the immense number of paintings and drawings, as well as graphic works, show the unique work of this progressive early 20th century artists' association.