Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (before 1920)
An artist group , 1926. Painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner , with Otto Mueller , Kirchner, Erich Heckel , Schmidt-Rottluff

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (born December 1, 1884 in Rottluff (now a district of Chemnitz ), † August 10, 1976 in Berlin ; actually Karl Schmidt ) was a German painter , graphic artist and sculptor . He is considered a classic of modernism and one of the most important representatives of Expressionism .

life and work

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 has been called Schmidt-Rottluff since 1905. From 1905 to 1906 he studied architecture at the Technical University of Dresden .

Artist group Brücke

Memorial plaque on the house at Niedstrasse 14 in Berlin-Friedenau
Former home of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in Chemnitz, Rottluff district.
Memorial plaque on Schützallee 136 in Berlin-Zehlendorf

On June 7, 1905, the artist group Brücke was founded in Dresden by the architecture students Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner , Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel . In November, the Brücke's first exhibition followed in an art dealership in Leipzig. In 1907 the Hamburg art historian Rosa Schapire asked for admission as a passive member. Schmidt-Rottluff, whom she held in high esteem, painted portraits of her in 1911, 1915 and 1919. The painter Max Pechstein , who was the only one of the group to be fully trained, joined the group, but was excluded when it turned out that he was also a member of the Berlin Secession . In 1913 the bridge dissolved.

Other artist groups

In 1910 Schmidt-Rottluff took part in the exhibitions of the New Secession in Berlin, in 1912 in the second exhibition of the Blue Rider 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 reinforcement soldier in Lithuania and Russia from 1915 to 1918.

After the First World War

After the end of the war, he married Emy Frisch in 1919 . Along with Rosa Schapire and Wilhelm Niemeyer , he designed the expressionist publication The red earth and 1920/21, the magazine for art promulgation .

At first, Schmidt-Rottluff's work was clearly influenced by Impressionism . North German and Scandinavian landscapes often appear as motifs. In 1911 the painter moved from Dresden to Berlin. Geometric forms thus took up more space in his work, from 1923 round, curved forms. In 1931 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was appointed as a member of the Prussian Academy of the Arts , from which he was, however, forced to resign two years later by Max von Schillings . In 1932 he moved to Rumbke am Lebasee in Western Pomerania .

Prohibition and destruction of images

The Blue House by Hanna Bekker vom Rath , Kapellenstr. 11 in Hofheim am Taunus , Schmidt-Rottluff's annual vacation and work domicile from 1932 to 1972

As a member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund since 1927 (from 1928 on the inner board, then also a member of the jury) Karl Schmidt Rottluff took part in the last DKB annual exhibition in 1936 at the Hamburger Kunstverein . Two oil paintings were shown: Snowy Stream and Evening by the Stream (1932; 91 × 124 cm). In 1937 Schmidt-Rottluff's works (608 works) were confiscated as “ Degenerate Art ” in German museums , and some of them were then shown in the “Degenerate Art” exhibition. When the painting was burned on March 20, 1939 in the courtyard of the main fire station in Berlin , 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 arable land to the mountain Zobten . Only a few of these watercolors that were given to friends have been preserved; the others were destroyed in 1945. From 1943 to 1946 Schmidt-Rottluff retired to Chemnitz. The Berlin apartment and studio were destroyed by bombing and he moved to Chemnitz-Rottluff.

After the Second World War

Honor grave, Hüttenweg 47, in Berlin-Dahlem

In 1947 he was appointed professor at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg . Schmidt-Rottluff was the second chairman of the board of the re-established German Artists Association in 1950 . Between 1951 and 1976 he took part in its annual exhibitions five times. In 1955, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was a participant in documenta 1 in Kassel .

In the GDR, the works of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, like those of the other Expressionists, got caught up in the formalism debate determined by the ideology of socialist realism from the end of the 1940s . His pictures were rarely bought and there were only very few exhibitions in the GDR in the decades up to 1982.

After his retirement from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1954, the artist often stayed in Hofheim am Taunus , Lake Maggiore and the Baltic Sea .

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

Schmidt-Rottluff was buried in the Dahlem Forest Cemetery in Berlin-Dahlem . The first director of the Brücke Museum gave the eulogy.

The grave is one of the honorary graves of the State of Berlin and is located in Dept. 10E-11/12.

Stays on the North / Baltic Sea

Seehofallee in Sierksdorf by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff on the information
board at Schmidt-Rottluff-Allee in Sierksdorf

In the course of his life, Schmidt-Rottluff was drawn to the North and Baltic Seas again and again in summer. The pictures of the Baltic Sea landscape were created in bright colors and generous abstraction of the motifs. The stays were:

  • 1906: Baltic island of Alsen
  • 1907–1912: Summer stays in Dangast on the North Sea
  • 1913: Nidden on the Curonian Spit (Lithuanian Nida )
  • 1914, 1919: Hohwacht on the Bay of Lübeck
  • 1919–1931: regularly in Jershöft in Western Pomerania ( Jarosławiec in Polish )
  • 1932–1943: "inner emigration" in summer and autumn in Rumbke am Lebasee ( Łebsko in Polish )
  • 1951–1973: Summer months in Sierksdorf an der Lübeck Bay in the house of the painter Günter Machemehl . The motifs were the steep coast and the beach of Sierksdorf. Furthermore, sculptures were created.


On his eightieth birthday in 1964, he made the proposal to build a bridge museum in Berlin. This has been put into practice. The museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf opened on September 15, 1967. Erich Heckel and he had given the house several works. Over 300 works by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, including paintings, watercolors , drawings, postcards, woodcuts , etchings , lithographs , commercial graphics and sculptures, are kept in the Brücke Museum.

The collection of the Chemnitz art collections comprises a total of 490 works by the artist. This includes paintings, sculptures, works on paper and exhibits from the applied arts.

The importance of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and the artist group was shown for the first time in 1957 with a groundbreaking exhibition “Painters of the Bridge in Dangast from 1907 to 1912” by the Oldenburger Kunstverein in the North Sea resort of Dangast . The exhibition was curated by the art historian Gerhard Wietek , who wrote numerous works on Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and other expressionists. In 2013, around 450 letters and postcards from Schmidt-Rottluff were sent to the Landesmuseum Oldenburg from his estate .


After him are the Schmidt-Rottluff-Allee (which was the motif of the painting Seehofallee in Sierksdorf ), the Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Weg in Berlin-Zehlendorf (between Berliner Strasse and Schützallee), the Schmidt-Rottluff-Weg in Hamburg- St. Pauli, Schmidt-Rottluff Straße on the eastern edge of the North Sea resort of Dangast and the Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Gymnasium in Chemnitz.

On May 6, 2015, the City Council of Chemnitz decided to rename the inner-city Kaßbergauffahrt bridge to Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Brücke. The occasion was the 110th anniversary of the artist group " Brücke ", which Schmidt-Rottluff co-founded .

As part of the series “ German Painting of the 20th Century ”, a 300-Pfennig special postage stamp was issued in 1995 by the Deutsche Bundespost with the motif Gutshof in Dangast .

See also: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Scholarship .

Works (selection)

Schmidt-Rottluff's works also include a few portraits, for example of the art historian Rosa Schapire, with whom he was close friends, and of Lyonel Feininger , another representative of Expressionism.



  • 1946 (in summer) City Art Collection in Chemnitz, Schlossberg Museum: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: watercolors from the years 1943–1946 , with catalog
  • 1974 Galerie Roswitha Haftmann Modern Art, Zurich, anniversary exhibition for the 90th birthday.
  • November 6, 2010 to January 23, 2011. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Landscapes and Still Life , Saarland Museum , Saarbrücken.
  • January 23 to May 15, 2011. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Unknown sheets from a private collection (watercolors from the late work), Ernst-Barlach-Haus , Hamburg.
  • February 11 to July 17, 2011: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Baltic Sea pictures . (35 paintings and 60 watercolors around the Baltic Sea from the Danish island of Alsen, Nidden on the Curonian Spit, Hohwacht on the Bay of Lübeck, Jershöft in Pomerania, the Pomeranian Rumbke on Lake Lebasee and Sierksdorf on the Bay of Lübeck).
  • 13 December 2015 to 10 April 2016: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: 490 plants in the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz , Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz , Chemnitz
  • January 27, 2018 to May 21, 2018: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: expressive, magical, strange , Bucerius Kunst Forum , Hamburg.

Web links

Commons : Karl Schmidt-Rottluff  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Some works

Individual evidence

  1. s. Hildegard Brenner: End of a bourgeois art institution. The political formation of the Prussian Academy of the Arts from 1933 , Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1972. ISBN 3-421-01587-2 (p. 124).
  2. Annette Stiekele: The glow of colors . In: Hamburger Abendblatt , January 24, 2011, p. 20.
  3. 1936 forbidden pictures , exhibition catalog for the 34th annual exhibition of the DKB in Bonn, Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin 1986. (p. 82/83).
  4. ^ Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 532.
  5. a b c Tourist information of the Baltic resort of Sierksdorf (ed.): Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, 1884–1976. In collaboration with Claus Bärwald, leaflet from 2011.
  6. a b President.
  7. ^ Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Landscapes around Kreisau (PDF; 251 kB) Special exhibition in the Silesian Museum Görlitz 2008.
  8. kuenstlerbund.de: Board members of the German Association of Artists since 1951 ( Memento from December 17, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on January 14, 2016).
  9. Julia Friedrich, Andreas Prinzing: “That's how you started, without a lot of words”: Exhibition and collection policy in the first years after the Second World War. Walter de Gruyter 2013. p. 218.
  10. Maike Steinkamp: The unwanted legacy: The reception of "degenerate" art in art criticism, exhibitions and museums of the Soviet occupation zone and the early GDR. Walter de Gruyter, 2008. p. 289.
  11. Schmidt-Rottluff grave site at knerger.de .
  12. ^ Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Baltic Sea pictures. An exhibition by the Brücke Museum Berlin , ed. v. Magdalena M. Moeller, Munich 2010. ISBN 978-3-7774-2821-5 .
  13. ^ A b Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: 490 works in the Chemnitz art collections , kunstsammlungen-chemnitz.de, accessed on December 13, 2015.
  14. Dirk Dasenbrock In: Oldenburgische Volkszeitung , March 8, 2013, p. 15.
  15. Order Pour le Mérite for Karl Schmidt-Rottluff .
  16. Honorary Members: Karl Schmidz-Rottluff. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 22, 2019 .
  17. ^ City of Chemnitz: Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff-Brücke receives name tags. June 15, 2017, accessed September 30, 2019 .
  18. ^ Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Sommersonne (sunset), 1909, watercolor on natural white cardboard, 66 x 49.7 cm, Museum Kunstpalast .
  19. oV : Sprengel Museum returns watercolor. In: [[Neue Presse (Hnnnover) |]] of March 11, 2017, p. 23.
  20. Fig. In large format by Norbert Berghof (Red.): Picture portfolio Art in pursuit: Degenerate Art (exhibition) 1937 in Munich. 18 examples. Neckar, Villingen 1998.
  21. ^ Internationales Maritime Museum, Hamburg, deck 8.
  22. Ludmila Vachtova . Roswitha Haftmann . P. 94.
  23. Brücke Museum shows impressions from the Baltic Sea. In: Hamburger Abendblatt , February 14, 2011, p. 15.
  24. ^ Special exhibition 2011 in the Brücke Museum Berlin. Retrieved February 18, 2011.