Die Brücke, the emotional Bridge

6 juillet 2016

Founded in 1905, the group Die Brücke is a collective of German artists at the origin of the Expressionism in Germany. Let’s look back at the story of these four founders between bright colors, linocuts and empty butchery.

The refusal of Impressionism as a leitmotif

While the first chapters of the twentieth century opened on major turmoils - whether political like the Russian Revolution (1905) or scientific like the Relativity publication of Einstein (1905) – the Die Brücke Association (The Bridge in German) is founded in Dresden, on June 7, by four artists: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Fritz Bleyl (1880-1966) and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976). They are later joined by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) and Max Pechstein (1881-1955) and together they federate artists called "revolutionary".

Born in the early 1880s, these young artists refuse the world that they are offered, its doctrines, morals, and therefore its vision of Art. At that time, Impressionism is spreading all over Europe and Germany. Still considered as innovative and revolutionary as it refuses the codes of the Royal Academy of Painting in its infancy, impressionism now appears to the founding members of Die Brücke as a haughty pictorial movement of bourgeois attracted by classicism, money and Christian morality. They reject the Art Nouveau or Jugendstil, and prefer the freedom of movements, nature, life and natural elements.

Emotions in colors

(La percée dans la digue, Karl Schmidt)

Sometimes compared to the Fauves, the Die Brücke movement gets its inspirations from the primitivism art by copying its tension, its crude and violent images and the extremeness of emotions  expressed with bright, spontaneous colors, almost acidic ... The nature is blazing, incandescent, the bodies are naked, tormented and feverish, and eventually the subject is only secondary compared to what the artist feelings. Installed in an empty butchery in Fredrichstadt where the floor is littered with books and paintings equipment, the group reinvents the woodcut craft, and makes up the technique called linocut allowing them to depict strong contrasts between black ink and white.
Inspired by Van Gogh, they also know how to honor the famous artists from the past such as Dürer, Grünewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder.


Dissolved in 1913 due to differences of opinions among the members, Die Brücke is considered as one of the fundamental groups of the emergence of German Expressionism, the other one being Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) born in Munich in 1911. Often compared, sometimes opposed, the Blue Rider group remains strongly rooted in our memories thanks to its members: Franz Marc, August Macke and a certain Vassily Kandinsky...

Catherine Duchêne, mind, soul and body

Born and raised in Paris, Catherine Duchêne paints expressionist artworks, especially bodies. Gestural and rhythmic, her work reveals her total commitment to her discipline. Emotions are expressed without restraint, as she chooses to value the vivid life of a body over the exactitude of the anatomy. The colors are explosive and their energy leads to an instinctive painting.