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Otto Mueller (1874-1930)

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Otto Mueller, member of the DIE BRÜCKE movement is one of the lesser-known artists from this group of artist, but he is certainly not the least talented of them all.

Mueller was born in Liebau (now Lubawka, Kamienna Góra County), Kreis Landeshut, Silesia. Between 1890 and 1892 he was trained in lithography in Görlitz and Breslau. From 1894 to 1896 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and continued his study in Munich during 1898. He left Munich’s academy after Franz von Stuck classified him as untalented.

His early works are influenced by impressionism, Jugendstil and Symbolism. When he settled to Berlin in 1908, his style became more expressionist. During this time there were meetings with Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Rainer Maria Rilke and Erich Heckel. In 1910, he joined ‘Die Brücke’, a Dresden-based group of Expressionist artists. He was a member of the group until it disbanded in 1913 due to artistic differences. At the same time, Mueller also had contact with the artist’s group ‘Der Blaue Reiter’.

During World War I he fought as a German soldier in France and Russia. After the war he became a professor at the academy of arts (Akademie der Bildenden Kunste) in Breslau where he taught until his death on 24 September 1930. Johnny Friedlaender and Isidor Ascheim were among his pupils there.

In 1937 the Nazis seized 357 of his works from German museums, since the pictures were considered to be degenerate art.[1]

Mueller was one of the most lyrical of German expressionist painters. The main topic of Mueller’s works is the unity of humans and nature; his paintings emphasize a harmonious simplification of form, colour and contours. He is known especially for his characteristic paintings of nudes and Romani (Gypsy) women; his nickname was “Gypsy Mueller” and his mother was perhaps Romani. The medium he preferred for his paintings was distemper on coarse canvas, which produced a mat surface. Altogether his printmaking amounted to 172 prints, nearly all of these being lithographs, but including a few woodcuts and etchings. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Brucke and Mueller publications available.

mueller koln

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Erich Heckel (1883-1970)

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Germany has a great history of Woodblock printing. Dürer was one of the arliest of great artists who used the technique but the 20th century had his own group of great aretists who used the technique. Tere were of course the rtaist of the BLAUE REITER, but there was also the group of the BRÜCker to which Heckel belonged. Heckel is arguably one of the most abstract Brücke artists, but his technique is as good as all the other together, Personally i like Heckel very much and this has resulted in a nice selection of publications available at www.ftn-books.com

Heckel and other members of Die Brücke greatly admired the work of Edvard Munch, and aimed to make a “bridge” between traditional neo-romantic German painting and modern expressionist painting. The four founding members made much use of the print as a cheap and quick medium with which to produce affordable art.

Primitive art was also an inspiration to the members of the Die Brücke. It was Heckel’s brother who introduced the group to African sculpture, and it is noted that their acceptance of primitive art, which was to fortify decisively the expressive yearnings of European artists- Was unequivocal. It is through this style that they found a source of strength in the barbaric figures.

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Another German Expressionist —–Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

Emil Nolde had a very long life and witnessed many art styles during this life, soaked them up and made a style which is personal and highly recognizable as Emil Nolde. For me it is a something between Kirchner ( see last weeks blogs) and Gauguin. It is  pleasing in its appearance, but the use of primary colors makes it also unreal and typical for the BRUCKE group. Wikipedia mentions his interest in van Gogh …..

Emil Nolde (born Emil Hansen; 7 August 1867 – 13 April 1956) was a German-Danish painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and was one of the first oil painting and watercolor painters of the early 20th century to explore color. He is known for his brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Golden yellows and deep reds appear frequently in his work, giving a luminous quality to otherwise somber tones. His watercolors include vivid, brooding storm-scapes and brilliant florals.

Nolde’s intense preoccupation with the subject of flowers reflected his interest in the art of Vincent van Gogh

….. but take a look at this Gauguin and you see immediately what a mean.

left Gauguin and right Nolde . You can see the similarities in color and even some aspects of the composition look the same. Far fetched?….maybe a little , but for me Nolde stands much closer to Gauguin and even Chagall than to van Gogh.

There are Nolde publications available at www.ftn-books.com