German Expressionist painter in oils and watercolour of figures, landscapes and still life, wood-engraver, lithographer, etcher and sculptor. Born Karl Schmidt at Rottluff near Chemnitz, Saxonia. Friendship with Heckel from 1901, and began to paint. Studied architecture at Dresden Polytechnic 1905-6, and through Heckel met Kirchner and Bleyl; the four artists founded in June 1905 the group 'Die Brucke' (The Bridge). Early paintings with strong colours and a profusion of brushstrokes, followed from c.1910-11 by a more arbitrary, strongly-constructed style with block-like simplifications. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Commeter, Hamburg, 1911. From 1907-12 spent part of each year in or near Dangast. 1915-18 in the army. Lived mainly in Berlin from 1911, with regular visits during the summers up to 1943 to the North Sea or Baltic coast and the spring months 1932-43 in the Taunus. Large graphic output up to about 1927 of over 600 woodcuts, lithographs and etchings. He was one of the artists most persecuted by the Nazis, who in 1941 forbade him to paint and placed him under the supervision of the SS. In 1947 appointed professor at the School of Fine Arts in Berlin. Died in Berlin.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.671