German Expressionism

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Heinrich Campendonk

German, 1889–1957

Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011

Painter, printmaker, stained-glass designer. First gained prominence within the Blaue Reiter circle, which he entered in 1911; showed three of his paintings in their first exhibition that year. Became known for his lyrical, sometimes fairy tale–like works envisioning a mystical harmony among animals, the untamed landscape, and man. Took inspiration in particular from Franz Marc’s animal subject matter and prismatic forms and colors, as well as from Bavarian folk art. Drafted in 1915; discharged due to poor health, he isolated himself in rural Seeshaupt in Bavaria. After war, gradually abandoned oil painting and worked instead on stained glass and decorative murals.

Began making prints in 1912, with encouragement from Herwarth Walden, whose Galerie Der Sturm promoted the Blaue Reiter artists. Made a total of seventy-seven prints, all black-and-white woodcuts, approximately one-third of them from 1916 to 1917, when woodcut was a major preoccupation for him. Many published in Der Sturm, Das Holzschnittbuch, and Die Schaffenden, the latter two by Paul Westheim.

Taught at various art schools from 1922–33, when Nazis fired him from the Düsseldorf Academy. Eighty-seven works were confiscated from public collections. Emigrated to Belgium in 1934, then to Amsterdam the following year. Took Dutch citizenship in 1951.

Selected Bibliography

Firmenich, Andrea. Heinrich Campendonk, 1889–1957: Leben und expressionistisches Werk. Recklinghausen, West Germany: Aurel Bongers, 1989.

Söhn, Gerhart. Heinrich Campendonk: Das graphische Werk. Düsseldorf: Schaab & Co., 1996.

Heather Hess

Printed by Heinrich Campendonk

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