Die Brücke  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a group of German expressionist artists formed in Dresden in 1905. The original four Jugendstil architecture students led by Hermann Obrist included:

Emil Nolde (1867-1956) and Max Pechstein (1881-1955) joined in 1906, and Otto Mueller (1874-1930) joined in 1910.

Although they were named for a passage in Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra that spoke of humanity's potential to be the evolutionary "bridge" to a more perfect future of "super-men" (Übermensch), Die Brücke instead aimed to make a 'bridge' between traditional neo-romantic German painting and modern expressionist painting.

Die Brücke was one of two groups of German painters fundamental to Expressionism, the other being Der Blaue Reiter group ("The Blue Rider"), formed in Munich in 1911.

The group members initially "isolated" themselves in a working-class neighborhood of Dresden, aiming thereby to reject their own bourgeois backgrounds. Erich Heckel was able to obtain an empty butcher's shop on the Berlinerstrasse in Friedrichstadt for their use as a studio.<ref>Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957, p. 78</ref> The group developed a common style based on vivid color, emotional tension, violent imagery, and an influence from primitivism. After first concentrating exclusively on urban subject matter, the group ventured into southern Germany on expeditions arranged by Mueller and produced more nudes and arcadian images. They invented the printmaking technique of linocut, although they at first described them as traditional woodcuts, which they also made. The group disbanded in 1913, at the onset of World War I, due to artistic differences.[1]

A successor group formed in 1919, the Dresdner Sezession, including painter Conrad Felixmüller. In recent years, the influence of Die Brücke has been seen in the Stuckist group of painters and even in the Remodernist film movement.

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