BRÜCKE (Die) (The Bridge)
A federation of artists founded in 1905 by Fritz Bleyl and a group of pupils of the Dresden Technical School -- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. One of the aims of the Brücke was to attract to itself all the revolutionary elements of the period. Thus, in 1906, Emil Nolde and the Swiss Cuno Amiet (an old friend of Gauguin at Pont-Aven), who used to exhibit at the Arnold Gallery in Dresden, were invited to join the movement. Max Pechstein and the Finn Axel Gallén joined the same year. In 1908 Kees Van Dongen, who at the time enjoyed a prominent position in Paris, was approached, and expressed his sympathy with the cause. From 1905 on, regular exhibitions were held, and meetings took place in Kirchner's studio, a converted shop in the Berlinerstrasse, which he had adorned with frescoes, wood sculptures, and furniture made out of packing-cases, and where members worked together from the same models. The last painter to join was Otto Müller, who was admitted in 1910, a few months before the group moved to Berlin. But rifts had already begun to appear. Nolde left in 1907, Bleyl in 1909. Pechstein was expelled in 1912. The Brücke was officially dissolved in 1913 (vide Heckel, Kirchner, Nolde, Schmidt-Rottluff). This movement -- from which one can date the beginning of modern art in Germany -- represented, for that country, the more or less contemporary equivalent of French Fauvism, from which it drew its main inspiration ( Van Dongen was the significant link), but with an expressionist and social emphasis characteristic of the Nordic anguish. All these artists were restless creatures, over-sensitive, haunted by religious, sexual, political or moral obsessions. Dramatic landscapes and nudes, mystical and visionary compositions, scenes of the countryside, the streets, the circus, the cafés-dansants and the demimonde were their principal themes. Their pure colours blaze in acid stridency, encompassed by rough, dry contours which show the influence of Negro art and primitive woodcuts. The first style of the Brücke group is characterized by a strong similarity of technique; made even stronger by their working together, that runs through all the different media: painting, sculpture and wood-engraving, posters, fabricprinting, and so on. After the transfer to Berlin of the already divided group, individual styles became more pronounced. In the nervous atmosphere of the big city, Heckel and Kirchner began to evolve in the direction of an expressionism intensified by sharp, broken forms and dissonant and darkened colours. On the eve of the First World War the group dispersed, each one setting out on his own artistic way.
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