Friday, April 13, 2012

Primitivism and Cigars

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) was a German expressionist painter and printmaker. Karl Schmidt was born in Rottluff, today a district of Chemnitz, (Saxony), and in 1905 began to call himself Schmidt-Rottluff, in honor of his birthplace. He was a member of Die Brücke (the "Bridge"), a group of expressionist painters formed by four Judgendstil architecture students Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel. The name was a reference to a quote from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end..." ( Was groß ist am Menschen, das ist, daß er eine Brücke und kein Zweck ist), Later members included Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller. The group had an interest in primitivist art, and had its first exhibition in 1905. In the Fall of 1911, Die Brücke moved to Berlin. The group eventually dissolved in 1913.

Die Brücke Group Members by Kirchner
(Schmidt-Rottluff is on right with glasses and goatee)

In 1937, the Nazis seized 608 of his paintings from museums and were classified as "degenerate art" ("Entartete Kunst"). After the war, in 1947, Schmidt-Rottluff was appointed a professor at the University of Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg.

Schmidt-Rottluffwas a prolific printmaker. His oeuvre is graced with 300 woodcuts, 105 lithographs, 70 etchings, and 78 commercial prints described in the Rosa Schapire Catalogue raisonné.

He died in Berlin in 1976.

In this particular posting, we focus on a self-portrait, where Schmidt-Rottluff paints himself with a cigar.

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