On June 7, 1905, four students of architecture, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff founded the Brücke ("bridge") artists group in Dresden. They aspired to establish a new vision of art and culture based on the dissolution of the boundaries between art and life.
Though the idealistic search for a new experimental aesthetic inspired their collaboration, the Brücke artists also chose to make prints to promote their work in a competitive art market. They designed a variety of printed matter to assert their identity, and used them to recruit "passive members" art collectors and patrons to support, sponsor and disseminate their work.
This manifesto, the first written statement of the groups ideals, appealed to "a generation of those who create and take pleasure," and expressed the Brücke artists' desire for a "direct and genuine" approach to representation. The Jugendstil-inspired typography, including the ornamental initial and the artist's monogram "ELK," reveals Kirchner's training in the applied arts and crafts with Hugo Steiner–Prag in Munich. In the Brücke title vignette, which also shows a Jugendstil influence, a bridge is used to represent the group's aspiration to create a new community united by a shared creative consciousness and artistic imagination.
Although, the Brücke artists used a slightly earlier, typeset version of the manifesto as a kind of handbill for potential buyers, this hand–carved version with the title vignette was intended as a special gift to their "passive members" they began to recruit in 1906.