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Biography

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was a German painter, graphic artist and sculptor. He is regarded as a modern classic and one of the most important representatives of expressionism.

Schmidt's father was the mill owner Friedrich Schmidt. Karl Schmidt was born in the residential building of the mill in Rottluff near Chemnitz (Saxony) and called himself Schmidt-Rottluff since 1905. From 1905 to 1906 he studied architecture at the Technical University of Dresden.

On June 7, 1905, the artists' group Brücke was founded in Dresden by the architecture students Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel. In November the first exhibition of the Brücke followed in an art gallery in Leipzig. In 1907, the Hamburg art historian Rosa Schapire asked to become a passive member. The Schmidt-Rottluff, whom she held in the highest esteem, painted portraits of her in 1911, 1915 and 1919. The painter Max Pechstein, who was the only one in the group with a full academic education, also joined, but was excluded when it turned out that he was also a member of the Berlin Secession. In 1913 the bridge disintegrated.

In 1910 Schmidt-Rottluff participated in the exhibitions of the New Secession in Berlin, in 1912 in the 2nd exhibition of the Blauer Reiter in Munich and in the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. In 1914, one year after the "Brücke" was dissolved, he became a member of the Free Secession in Berlin and had his first solo exhibition there. During the First World War he was a reinforcing soldier in Lithuania and Russia from 1915 to 1918.

After the end of the war he married Emy Frisch in 1919. Together with Rosa Schapire and Wilhelm Niemeyer he designed the expressionist publication Die rote Erde and in 1920/21 the magazine for art Kündung.

In the beginning Schmidt-Rottluff's work was still clearly influenced by Impressionism. Northern German and Scandinavian landscapes frequently appear as motifs. In 1911 the painter moved from Dresden to Berlin. This meant that geometric forms took up a larger space in his work, and from 1923 round, curved forms. In 1931 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was appointed as a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, but only two years later Max von Schillings forced him to resign. In 1932 he moved to Rumbke am Lebasee in Hinterpommern.

The Blue House of Hanna Bekker vom Rath, Kapellenstr. 11 in Hofheim am Taunus, Schmidt-Rottluff's annual vacation and working domicile from 1932 to 1972 As a member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund since 1927 (from 1928 on the select committee, then also a jury member) Karl Schmidt Rottluff participated in the last DKB annual exhibition in 1936 at the Hamburger Kunstverein. Two oil paintings were shown: Verschneiter Bach and Abend am Bach (1932; 91 × 124 cm). In 1937 Schmidt-Rottluff's works (608 works) were confiscated by German museums as "Degenerate Art", some of them were then shown in the "Degenerate Art" exhibition. During the burning of the paintings on March 20, 1939 in the courtyard of the Berlin main fire station, several of his works were destroyed. In 1941 he was expelled from the professional association and was banned from painting.

In September 1942 Schmidt-Rottluff was a guest of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke at Kreisau Castle in Kreisau in Lower Silesia. There he painted - despite the painting ban imposed on him in 1941 - numerous landscapes, in particular the view over the park and the farmland to Mount Zobten. Only a few of these watercolours, which had been given away to friends, have been preserved, the others were destroyed in 1945. From 1943 to 1946 Schmidt-Rottluff retreated to Chemnitz.6 The Berlin apartment and the Berlin studio were destroyed by bombing, he moved to Chemnitz-Rottluff.

In 1947 he was appointed professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Schmidt-Rottluff was the second chairman of the board of the refounded Deutscher Künstlerbund in 1950. Between 1951 and 1976 he took part in five more annual exhibitions. In 1955 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was a participant in documenta 1 in Kassel.

In the GDR, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's works, like those of the other Expressionists, were caught up in the maelstrom of the formalism debate determined by the ideology of Socialist Realism from the end of the 1940s onwards. His paintings were hardly ever bought9 and there were very few exhibitions in the GDR in the decades up to 1982.

After his retirement from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in 1954, the artist often stayed in Hofheim am Taunus, on Lake Maggiore and on the Baltic Sea.

Emy and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff died in 1975 and 1976 in West Berlin, a few months apart.

Artworks Karl Schmidt-Rottluff