The Mysteries
of Material

6/26–10/13/2019

Kirchner, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff

No material bears as close a connection to the art of German Expressionism as wood. The product of a natural growth process, wood appealed to the “Brücke” co-founders Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. In dialogue with it, they created woodcuts and sculptures of great expressive force. The exhibition retraces the interplay between these mediums in their work.

Exhibition

About the exhibition

In a special exhibition starting in the summer of 2019, the Städel Museum will explore the reciprocal relationships between woodcut and wooden sculpture in the oeuvres of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938), Erich Heckel (1883–1970) and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884–1976). The show’s starting point is wood, which is more closely bound to the art of German Expressionism than any other material. What appealed to the artists especially about wood was its unevenness and grain, but also its differing hues and degrees of hardness.
After Kirchner, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff together formed the “Brücke” artists’ association in Dresden in 1905, the woodcut became one of their most important artistic mediums. Until well into the 1920s/’30s, their specific mode of expression and the pleasure they took in experimentation were particularly evident in the works executed in this printing technique.

What is more, at around the time of their first woodcuts and in close connection to them, the three artists also carved reliefs, nude figures and heads in wood that influenced their woodcuts with regard to both form and content – and vice versa. Showcasing some ninety woodcuts, five woodcut blocks and a series of sculptures, the exhibition will explore the artists’ special approach to the printing technique and the handling of the material. The Städel will be able to draw on its own holdings – the collection of the Frankfurt art patron Carl Hagemann – for a large proportion of the works.

Picture: Erich Heckel, Reclining Woman, 1909, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Estate Erich Heckel, Hemmenhofen, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019, Photo: Städel Museum

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Gallery

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    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Couple Taking a Stroll, 1907

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938)

    Colour woodcut from two printing blocks on laid paper
    280 × 215 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Erich Heckel, White Horses, 1912

    Erich Heckel (1883–1970)

    Colour woodcut from two printing blocks on wove paper
    267 × 306 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Estate Erich Heckel, Hemmenhofen
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Heads I, 1911

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884–1976)

    Heads I, 1911
    Woodcut on wove paper
    500 × 396 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Avenue, 1911

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884–1976)

    Avenue, 1911
    Woodcut on wove paper
    398 × 501 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Dance of Colours, 1933

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938)

    Dance of Colours, 1933
    Colour woodcut from three printing blocks, partially sawn in pieces, on Japanese paper
    502 × 354 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tattersall, 1909

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938)

    Tattersall, 1909
    Colour woodcut from three blocks on wove paper
    375 × 344 mm (printing block)
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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