Brücke Museum, Berlin
D. is a great fan of the German Expressionists and the Brücke Museum was high on our list of places to visit while we were in Berlin. It's a bit of a trek (on a bus to an affluent inner-suburb of Dahlem) but it's well worth the trip to the end of a suburban street - where rather incongruously you'll find the museum. The Brücke was founded around the personal collection of the Expressionist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and was later enlarged by a bequest from the artist Erich Heckel. It has the largest collection of Die Brücke (The Bridge) artworks and instead of a permanent exhibition, the museum displays a changing series of shows designed to highlight the breadth of their holdings.
Above is a portrait of the artist Otto Mueller, painted by Erich Heckel in 1930. The collection includes a large number of printed works for which the Expressionist were know. Prints exemplified their belief that art should be cheaply available and enjoyed by all.
Formed in Dresden in 1905, Die Brücke was initially a group of four students, Schmidt-Rottluff, Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl. They were later joined by Emil Nolde, Otto Meuller and Max Pechstien. They corresponded with Edvard Munch and were contemporaries of the Fauvists in Paris. Later dismissed as "degenerate art" by the Nazi's, Die Brücke representations were often figurative but also primitive and somewhat abstracted. They sought to convey extreme emotion in their work and sought to link older forms like the woodcut (and the new linocut) with new expressions in art that rejected the dominant and comfortable neo-romanticism of the day.
The exhibition space which was very quiet was divided between two shows; one focused on Heckel (above and below) and another on Schmidt-Rottluff's later, colorful still lifes - which you can towards the bottom of the post. The prints below show the angular, un-naturalistic quality of Heckel's representations.
As you can see the galleries have a rather modernist feel. They are peaceful and well lit. The fact that the exhibitions rotate makes this a great museum for those living locally.
Schmidt-Rottluff's career spanned a large swath of the Twentieth Century. Born in 1884 he lived until 1976 and had a prominent place in German artistic life after the war. His founding donation in 1964 became the basis for the Brücke Museum which opened in 1967. Though well know for both his landscapes and prints it was a pleasure to see so many of his later still lifes in a single exhibit.
The saturated color and easeful movement of the paint was striking.
Tips: It's well worth heading out to the Brücke Museum, but it's important to know that the exhibitions change frequently so it's worth checking their website before you go.
Once out in Dahlem, there are a number of other places you can visit including the next door Kunsthaus Dahlem (which we skipped) and the spectacular cultural collections at the state Ethnological Museum - which we enjoyed. We were astounded at the South Pacific and African collections which were spectacular and almost empty. I highly recommend the excellent audio guide which was included in the admission. I'm not sure if I'll get around to a blog post but as an anthropologist this was a fantastic find. It's hard to image the wealth of museums in Berlin which is truly one of the great museum cities.