'Concerning myself I know that I have no program, only the inner longing to grasp what I see and feel and to find its purest expression. At this point I only know that these are things I come close to through art, not intellectually nor by means of the word' (Schmidt-Rottluff, 'Das Neue Programm: Antwort auf eine Rundfrage über künstlerische Programme' in Kunst und Kunstler, vol. 12, Berlin, 1914, p. 308).
In Haus an der Strassenkurve, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff infuses a simple landscape scene with both drama and expression through his trademark use of raw colour. Taking what is a fairly classical moonlight scene and reducing the colours to a series of simple primary tones, he creates a powerful image with the minimum of painterly means. In doing so, the physical act of his painting, the action and form of each brush-stroke, becomes an integral part of the work. Using long, swift and bold brushstrokes the surface of the canvas is endowed with an energy and vitality that echoes the living nature of the scene. These features endow the whole work with a remarkable sense of freshness and vitality that reinforces the Brücke artist's insistence on directness and spontaneity as the key principles of artistic creation: the power of this reductive approach epitomises his finest work.
The influence of the great Expressionist Edvard Munch is most evident in this work, with the dark pools of shadow beneath the tree redolent with the emotive power of Munch's moonlight landscapes. Munch used bold colour and line to express the inner world of the artist - the Die Brücke group, of which Schmidt-Rottluff was a founding member, believed in art's ability to express the inner turmoil of the artist and landscape became a favoured medium through which to achieve this. Schmidt-Rottluff in particular favoured this genre, and his early influences were, along with Munch, the greats of Fauve landscape painting: Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck. The present work combines beautifully the emotional depth and vital tone that made Schmidt-Rottluff one of the key figures in German Expressionism, with the joyous love of colour that so informed his first influences.