Karl Schmidt-RottluffGerman, 1884–1976
Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011
Painter, printmaker. One of four architecture students, including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, and childhood friend Erich Heckel, who cofounded Brücke group in Dresden in 1905. The most independent long-term member, from 1910 to 1911, kept a studio in Hamburg, home of several important supporters. Thematically, preferred northern landscapes, many created during summers spent in Dangast from 1908 to 1912, a fishing village, and later in remote Baltic coastal towns Nidden and Hohwacht. Even after moving to Berlin in 1911, shied away from Brücke subjects of urban modernity; began depicting radically stylized nudes and heads, influenced by Cubism and African and Oceanic art. Conscripted in May 1915 and served three years on Eastern front. Although shattered nerves rendered him unable to paint, continued to make woodcuts. Near end of war, seeking spiritual solace, turned to biblical themes.
From the beginning, printmaking fundamental to simplifying and abstracting his style. Made 663 prints, of which nearly 450 were woodcuts. Almost all date between 1905 and 1927. Until 1912 printed most by hand in small editions; thereafter used professional printers, sometimes under commission from publishers, including Pan-Presse, J. B. Neumann, and Kurt Wolff.
In 1933 expelled by Nazis from the Prussian Academy of Arts; eventually prohibited from painting and exhibiting. Nazis confiscated 608 works from public collections. Berlin studio and many works destroyed during World War II.
Moeller, Magdalena M., ed. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Druckgrafik. Exh. cat. Berlin: Brücke-Museum, 2001.
Schapire, Rosa. Karl Schmidt-Rottluffs graphisches Werk bis 1923. 3 vols. Berlin: Euphorion, 1923.
Thiem, Günter, and Armin Zweite, eds. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Retrospektive. Exh. cat. Munich: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, 1989.