Wilhelm LehmbruckGerman, 1881–1919
Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011
Sculptor, draftsman, printmaker. Known for his sculptures of slender, elongated figures whose solemn, often downcast gestures convey introspection and a hushed, brooding emotion. After studying in Düsseldorf, moved to Paris in 1910, and was influenced by Aristide Maillol and Auguste Rodin as well as the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. Outbreak of World War I forced his return to Germany. Served as a medic in Berlin, which allowed him to work uninterruptedly; discharged in February 1916 for a hearing impairment. Moved to Switzerland later that year to escape the misery of war. Returned to Berlin in 1919, and was elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts. This success could not offset his severe depression compounded by marital problems; committed suicide six days later.
His 183 drypoints and 17 lithographs, all made between 1910 and 1919, exclusively depicted figures, alone and in small groups. Used printmaking in a sketchlike manner, creating sensitive, freely drawn impressions of fleeting moments of passion or emotion. Paul Cassirer in Berlin published his prints in small editions, some of them posthumously in the 1920s.
In the 1930s Nazis condemned his work as degenerate and removed it from public collections.
Heller, Reinhold. The Art of Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Exh. cat. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1972.
Petermann, Erwin. Die Druckgraphik von Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje, 1964.
Rudloff, Martina, and Dietrich Schubert, eds. Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Exh. cat., Gerhard Marcks Haus. Bremen: Gerhard-Marcks-Stiftung, 2000.