Erich Heckel Biography

Erich Heckel




Erich Heckel was born in Germany in 1883. A painter, printmaker and sculptor, he is well known for being one of the founding members of the Expressionist group Die Brücke (the Bridge) along with his friends Ernst Ludwig Kirschner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Heckel is best known for his paintings of nudes, landscapes and still lifes, though he was also intensely interested in printmaking.

In 1911, all the members of the group moved to Berlin. During World War I Heckel served as a medical orderly and was responsible for organizing the return home of wounded soldiers. Several of his drawings and sketches from this time mirror his experiences and capture impressions of the scenery of the time. Like the other Die Brücke painters, Heckel was also inspired by nature and searched for it as untouched as possible by civilization. He spent many summers traveling Europe and exploring the mountains such as the Alps around the Bodensee, and in the Black Forest. The monumentality of the mountains is captured in many of his landscapes.

Besides Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff and Kirschner, Max Pechstein, Otto Müller, and Emil Nolde joined Die Brücke. Together they exhibited their works in over twenty shows. Their work was condemned by the Nazis as "degenerate". As a result a substantial part of Heckel's own work was destroyed. However, until his death in 1970, Heckel remained one of Germany's most important artists and he received many exhibitions and awards.