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Erich Heckel

(1883-1970)

Painter, Engraver, Sculptor

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Biography

(born 31 July 1883 Döbeln, Germany; died 27 Jan 1970 Radolfzell, Germany) German painter, printmaker and sculptor. Erich Heckel was one of the founding and most productive members of the Die Brucke Movement. He began learning art as a child, and befriended fellow Die Brucke member Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in grammar school. Heckel attended the Technical University of Dresden where he met Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl. Influenced by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and other writers, Heckel found common ground with Kirchner, Bleyl and Schmidt-Rotluff and in 1905 they founded Die Brucke. Heckel took on the business manager role for the group; arranging the logistics for their exhibitions. He worked on art away from the city and in nature whenever possible. Most of his early works consisted of painting from live nudes and woodcuts; a traditional German art form that Heckel interjected with modern subject matter. Heckel made the largest effort to keep the group together; keeping in touch with all members and remaining with the group until it began to fall apart when the artists moved to Berlin. He worked in a medical unit in Belgium during World War I and joined the political organizations the Artists Advisory Board and November Group during the 1920s. Heckel remained active in art during this time, traveling throughout Europe and painting landscapes. In 1937 the Nazi Party labeled Heckel’s work as degenerate; forcing him to move from Berlin to Carinthia, Austria. After the war he returned to Berlin to find his studio and work destroyed. From 1949 to 1955 he taught art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. Heckel’s art toward the end of his career, integrating old tradition and modern technique, was far less severe and jolting than his work when he was a member of Die Brucke.

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