Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl (1884–1976) By Soika, Aya
The German expressionist painter, printmaker, and sculptor Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was born into a miller’s family in Rottluff near Chemnitz in Saxony. Like Emil Nolde and other artists at the time, he added his birthplace to his common surname “Schmidt.” During his short career as a student of architecture at the Technical University in Dresden, he co-founded Die Brücke together with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, and Fritz Bleyl in June 1905. Although he discontinued his studies, he remained part of the group until its official dissolution in Berlin on 27 May 1913. Unlike his former Brücke colleagues, Schmidt-Rottluff did not undergo major stylistic changes during the 1920s when many artists returned to a greater naturalism. During the National Socialist dictatorship, his art was officially defamed and included in the propaganda exhibition Degenerate Art (1937). He continued to be active as an artist until his death, also remaining a resident of Berlin, where he had moved in 1911. In 1947, he accepted a professorship at the newly founded Academy of Fine Arts in the western part of Berlin; he also played a prominent role in the foundation of the Brücke-Museum Berlin, which opened in 1967. Together with the Karl and Emy Schmidt-Rottluff Foundation, the Brücke-Museum looks after his estate, which includes paintings, works on paper, and sculpture, as well as an impressive collection of the artist’s woodblocks.