German sculptor, painter and etcher. Born in Duisburg-Meiderich, son of a miner. Attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Düsseldorf 1895-9 and the Düsseldorf Academy 1901-7. Made social realist sculptures influenced by Meunier, then figures inspired to some extent by Rodin. Visited Italy in 1905 and 1912. Lived 1910-14 in Paris, where he met Matisse, Archipenko, Brancusi and others. Apparently came under the influence of Maillol and then began to make his figures thinner and more elongated, with a prevailing air of melancholy. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Levesque, Paris, 1914. Returned in 1914 to Berlin, where he worked as nurse in a military hospital. The suffering and misery he saw there are reflected in his late sculptures such as 'Fallen Man' 1915-16, a masterpiece of Expressionism. Lived 1917-18 in Zurich, then returned to Berlin where he committed suicide.
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, pp.420-1