01069 Dresden, Germany
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff enrolled in Dresden Technical University in 1905.
Hardenbergstraße 33, 10623 Berlin, Germany
In 1947 Schmidt-Rottluff became a professor at the University of Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg (now the Berlin University of the Arts).
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in his later years.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in his later years.
After finishing secondary school in nearby Chemnitz, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff first chose to study theology but then followed the example of his friend and went to study architecture in Dresden. He enrolled in Dresden Technical University in 1905. There he and his friend Erich Heckel met Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl, two other architecture students who shared their passion for painting.
Schmidt-Rottluff became one of the founders of the group Die Brücke ("The Bridge"), along with his fellow architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, and Erich Heckel. It was founded in Dresden on 7 June 1905, and its first exhibition was held in Leipzig in the same year. The artists of Die Brücke typically preferred to depict scenes of urban life, however, Schmidt-Rottluff was particularly known for his rural landscapes. He initially painted in an Impressionist style. Like the other Brücke artists, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff had also begun to explore the expressive potential of the woodcut medium.
The artist spent the summer of that year on the island of Alsen, in the company of Emil Nolde. Between 1907 and 1912 Schmidt-Rottluff regularly spent his summers in Dangast, near Bremen, and a number of his works were inspired by this secluded coastal region.
In December 1911 he and the other members of Die Brücke moved to Berlin, where he was exposed to the most popular stylistic movements of the international avant-garde, including Cubism, Futurism, and African Tribal Art, all of which inspired his later work. The group was dissolved in 1913. After that, Schmidt-Rottluff began to produce woodcuts and wooden sculptures.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff served in the army on the eastern front from 1915 till 1918 before returning to Berlin, where he spent the rest of his life except for the last several years. His painting of this period took on a darker palette, as in Woman with a Bag (1915). While serving on the Eastern Front, the artist did a cycle of religious woodcuts in which he tried to come to terms with the atrocities of war. It was his graphic masterpiece. The distorted, oblong faces in his works, including his sculpture Male Head (1917), represented his passion for primitive art, an interest inspired by the African art (especially West African masks) he had observed at Dresden's Ethnographic Museum. In 1924 the art historian Rosa Schapire who had been his long-time supporter, and sometimes even a model, published a catalogue of his graphic artworks.
The honours granted Schmidt-Rottluff after the First World War, as Expressionism was officially recognized in Germany, were taken away from him after the Nazis rose to power. In 1937, 608 of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's paintings were seized from museums by the Nazis and were labelled "degenerate art" ("Entartete Kunst"). By 1941 he had been forbidden to paint and expelled from the painters guild.
Happily, after the end of World War II, his career was revived. In 1947, Schmidt-Rottluff became a professor at the University of Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg (now the Berlin University of the Arts), through which he again had an important influence on a new generation of artists. His late work linked up with his Expressionist phase although his palette became more subtle and less intense. The Brücke Museum, which he had endowed with a collection of his works, was inaugurated in 1967. He remained active until his death.
Pier at Night
Woman with a Bag
Autumn Landscape in Oldenburg
Self-Portrait with Cigar
Portrait of Emy
Dr Rosa Schapire
Garden in Winter
Two Girls in a Garden
Sun over the Pine Forest
Village at the Sea
Evening in the Room
Still Life (Sanseveria and Jar)
Houses at Night
Stillleben mit grüner Vase
Feuerlilien und Jasmin
Gebäude mit hoher Tanne
Drei am Tisch
"I know of no 'new programme'.. .Only that art is forever manifesting itself in new forms, since there are forever new personalities – its essence can never alter, I believe. Perhaps I am wrong. But speaking for myself, I know that I have no programme, only the unaccountable longing to grasp what I see and feel, and to find the purest means of expressing for it."
"The essence of art can never change. I'm convinced you can't talk about art. At best, you will have a translation, a poetic paraphrase, & as for that I'll leave that to the poets."
"On occasion I came to exaggerate certain forms, in violation of scientific proportion but in accordance with the balance of their spiritual relationships to each other. I made heads vastly oversized in relation to other parts of the body, because the head is the point of concentration of all the psyche, all expression."