Erich Heckel Man on a Plain (Mann in der Ebene) from the portfolio Eleven Woodcuts, 1912-1919 (Elf Holzschnitte, 1912-1919) 1917 (published 1921)

  • Not on view

These eleven woodcuts, made after the dissolution of the Brücke group in 1913, cover a range of themes: nature, nudes, portraits, and war. Despite the various subjects, the prints all share a somber mood that reflects the economic and political uncertainty of the times. Heckel puts this sense of foreboding in visual terms through Expressionist manipulations of space and stark contrasts of black and white. Abrupt cropping and the narrow, vertical format heighten the feelings of oppression and tension. Even when placed in a sweeping landscape, figures are compressed into a tight space.

The dark background seems to collapse around the figure in Man in der Ebene (Man on a plain); bound in on all sides, he has no place else to go. Zwei Verwundete (Two wounded soldiers) shows two men waiting in a cramped room, unable to escape the misery of war. Their downcast eyes, like those of Heckel's wife in Hockende (Crouching woman), convey a powerful sense of hushed, brooding emotion. In Schneetreiben (Driving snow), the blinding brightness is deceptive; Heckel depicts a cold and desolate world.


J. B. Neumann, who had worked with the artist before World War I, published this portfolio in 1921, taking advantage of the booming print market of the early 1920s, when, as the German currency lost value, graphic works promised a secure investment.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
composition: 14 15/16 x 10 11/16" (37.9 x 27.2 cm); sheet (irreg.): 24 7/16 x 20 1/4" (62 x 51.5 cm)
J. B. Neumann, Berlin
Fritz Voigt, Berlin
40; plus a few proofs outside the edition
Object number
© 2024 Erich Heckel / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Drawings and Prints

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).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].