Worpswede is a village set in beautiful countryside in Lower Saxony, Germany, near the city of Bremen. In 1889 the painters Fritz Mackensen, Otto Modersohn and Hans am Ende moved there and founded an artists’ colony. Worpswede painting was initially in the plein air tradition, but later embraced more modern tendencies particularly expressionism.
From the beginning they were closely connected with Carl Vinnen, who lived on his farm at Ostendorf, Bremerhaven. In 1892 they were joined by Fritz Overbeck, and in 1894 by Heinrich Vogeler. The most important early Worpswede artist is considered to be the pioneer expressionist, Paula Modersohn-Becker, who moved there in 1898 and remained until her death in 1907. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was a major literary figure who lived there from 1900–2. He wrote a book about the area in which he described it as:
A strange land. If one stands on the small sandy hill in Worpswede, one can see it spread out all around, like the farmer’s cloths that show deep vivid flowers against a dark background. It lies flat, almost without a fold, and the paths and waterways lead far into the horizon. There a sky of indescribable variations and magnitude begins.
After the first phase, Worpswede continued to attract artists and today remains a focus for artistic and literary events.