Ernst Kirchner
Group of Artists

Die Brücke


Der Blaue Reiter


Gabrielle Munter

Course Outline
Post WWI Germany
The Beginning
Die Brücke & Der Blaue Reiter
The Artists
Entartete Kunst
Hitler the Artist
Golden Age of German Cinema
The Films
The Directors
Film Noir
Recent Films

Die Brücke

Prior to World War I there were two important movements within the German Expressionism movement itself. While there were many styles within each of these two movements, they were quite different from each other in both technique and philosophy.

Die Brücke (the Bridge) was established in 1905 in Dresden by four architectural students who had just graduated from Dresden Polytechnic Institute: Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Kirchner,and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Other members included Max Pechstein,Otto Mueller,Max Beckmann Kathe Kollwitz ,Erich Heckel and, for a short time, Emil Nolde. The name was chosen by Schmidt-Rottfluff as an indication of their faith in art of the future, to which their work would serve as a bridge.

Kirchner was the leader and spiritual conscience of the group, insisting that they express their inner convictions with both sincerity and spontaneity. The group's work consisted mainly of landscapes, nudes, street life, and carnival performers. They used images of the modern city to convey a world of hostility and alienation in which a sense of foreboding and barely-restrained violence seemed ready to burst forth from the canvases.

The more traditional and conventional artistic and political atmosphere of Dresden proved not to be receptive to the artists' work and in 1908 the group relocated to Berlin. Berlin at this time was the cultural and artistic capital of Germany...a city of labyrinth streets, unplanned growth, modern buildings, revolutionary politics, and a large migrant population. Kirchner especially was drawn to the street life of Berlin and produced some of his best work during this period.

The diverging convictions of the members of Die Brücke brought about the collapse of the group in 1913.

Der Blaue Reiter

Wasilly Kandinsky was a Russian abstract artist who embraced German Expressionism. Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) was named after an exhibition and painting of his and he was its guiding spirit. Der Balue Reiter was based in Munich from 1911 to 1914. Among the more well-known members were: Gabrielle Munter, August Macke,& Franz Marc. Their works ranged from pure abstraction to romantic imagery and attempted to express spiritual truths. The members of Der Blaue Reiter shared both a philosophical view and certain approaches to technique.

Additional Resources

MOMA Exhibit - Artists of Brücke
Brücke Museum
Der Blaue Reiter at Artelino
Berlin: The City as Body, The City as Metaphor
The German Cabaret
The Berlin Secession

and, just for fun! a virtual tour of:
Berlin's Historic Urinals

Learning Activities:

1. What was the Berlin Secession and how did it affect the Expressionism painters?

2. Research the culture sof Berlin, Munich and Dresden during the period just before and just after World War I. Explain the ways in the which the cultures of the three cities differed.