Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Dunes and Pier (Dünen und Mole). (1917), published 1923

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Dunes and Pier (Dünen und Mole) (1917), published 1923

  • Not on view

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was one of the most important progenitors of German Expressionism. In 1905 he moved to Dresden to study architecture and began experimenting with the woodcut technique the same year. Dropping out of school after one semester, he formed the Brücke (Bridge) group with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl, both of whom he had met through his childhood friend, artist Erich Heckel, also a founder. During his career as a painter and printmaker, Schmidt-Rottluff made more than six hundred printed images in woodcut, lithography, and etching.

The woodcut technique dominated Schmidt-Rottluff's printed work from approximately 1909 to 1920. By 1911 he had moved to Berlin, where, increasingly exposed to Cubism and African and Oceanic art, his work grew more abstract, with angular lines and flattened shapes. In 1915 he was conscripted into the army and served for three years in Russia and Lithuania before returning to Berlin in 1918. These prints were made during the war years when, traumatized by the brutality he witnessed, Schmidt-Rottluff suffered such extreme anxiety that he was unable to paint and devoted himself to the more therapeutic practice of carving woodblocks and wooden sculpture. Between 1917 and 1919, he devoted himself primarily to religious subjects, including The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, taken from a portfolio of woodcuts depicting scenes from the life of Christ.

Other themes also appear in the artist's work. In Dunes and Pier, a depiction of Nidden, the village in East Prussia (Lithuania) on the Baltic where Schmidt-Rottluff vacationed, he expresses his belief in the enduring timelessness of nature, while Mother is typical of his monumental and direct treatment of figures at this time. In both works he took advantage of the qualities particular to woodcut, integrating the irregularity of the block, its natural grain and flat, smooth surfaces, into his compositions.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Harper Montgomery, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 64.
Medium
Woodcut
Dimensions
composition (irreg.): 11 7/16 x 13 5/16" (29 x 33.8 cm); sheet: 18 1/8 x 20 1/16" (46 x 51 cm)
Publisher
Hyperion Verlag, Munich
Printer
Fritz Voigt, Berlin
Edition
Proof before the edition of 100; plus unknown number of proofs printed by the artist
Credit
Gift of Mrs. Heinz Schulz
Object number
290.1955
Copyright
© 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.