Brücke was a German expressionist group founded in Dresden in 1905 which developed a radical anti-traditional style characterised by vivid non-naturalistic colour and emotional tension

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  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 'Bathers at Moritzburg' 1909/26
    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
    Bathers at Moritzburg 1909/26
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1511 x 1997 mm
    frame: 1760 x 2262 x 71 mm
    Purchased 1980
  • Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 'Dr Rosa Schapire' 1919
    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
    Dr Rosa Schapire 1919
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1006 x 873 mm
    frame: 1121 x 981 x 80 mm
    Presented by the executors of Dr Rosa Shapire 1954© DACS, 2002
  • Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 'Male Head' 1917
    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
    Male Head 1917
    Wood
    object: 343 x 133 x 165 mm
    Presented by the executors of Dr Rosa Shapire 1954© DACS, 2002

Brücke means bridge and may have been intended to convey the idea of a bridge between the artist and society at large. Also, Brücke recruited members who were not artists but patrons, paying a subscription entitling them to an annual portfolio of prints (one of these was Rosa Schapire). The name may therefore also refer to this direct bridge between artist and patron.

The manifesto of 1906 stated ‘we want to achieve freedom of life and action against the well established older forces’. In art this freedom involved blending elements of old German art and African and South Pacific tribal art, with post-impressionism and fauvism to create a distinctive modern style. In life they sought a return to a more direct relationship with nature (another bridge). This is vividly expressed in their pictures of themselves bathing nude in the lakes near Dresden.

Chief artists were Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Bleyl and Heckel, joined in 1910 by Otto Müller. Emil Nolde was also briefly a member.