On 7 June 1905, in the city of Dresden, four architecture students founded the Künstlergruppe “Die Brücke” with the common goal of restoring a sense of value and unity through the experience of a communal studio and shared exhibitions. When Die Brücke was founded, Dresden, like other cities in the German Empire, was undergoing a rapid transition—physically, economically, and socially. The utopian principles of the Brücke artists stood in contrast to the fragmenting, debilitating effects of modern urban life, as outlined in Georg Simmel’s notable 1903 essay, The Metropolis and Mental Life. The group’s studio became a space for life and work: young men, women, children, acrobats and dancers came to the studio, becoming part of the artists’ lives, not just serving as frozen models. Models became friends and companions, studio life overrode daily responsibilities, and art offered cohesion.
Brücke documents the beginning of German Expressionism, one of the 20th century’s most influential and controversial art movements. The artists represented in Lots XX-XX all were connected with the group for a period of time. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a founding member, Pechstein a member from 1906-1912, and Emil Nolde a member for only one year, although he brilliantly exemplified the group’s desire for subjectively expressive coloristic innovation. In the following pages, the works of Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger and George Grosz are all indebted to the Expressionist movement that began with Die Brücke.
GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST WORKS ON PAPER FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION