Description & Technical information

In 1903 Schmidt-Rottluff, Heckel and Kirchner establishes the artists group Die Brücke in Dresden, which together with Der blaue Reiter laid the foundation for expressionism. In the program that Kirchner drafts and sets in woodcut, their ambition is clear: ‘Everyone who with directness and authenticity conveys that which drives them to create belongs to us.’ Under the influence of the fauves and Van Gogh, these young painters – who had all studied architecture – strive for large, simple forms that they compose in planes. The sculptures from Africa and the South Seas that Kirchner had come across at the ethnographic museum in Dresden in 1904, has a decisive influence. The far-reaching stylization often comes close to simple cubism and also harks back to practices from the applied arts. – While his friends remain fascinated with Van Gogh, Heckel returns to a more realistic approach. And it is not only in his landscapes that his planes accrue more atmosphere. In his nudes and intimate scenes, as well, he tends more to idyll than do his friends. In this drawing the tendency is more pronounced than in the heydey of expressionism. The diagonals and sharp angles are less emphatic than in the early work; peace instead of dynamics. The décor and the protagonists are more elaborated, less schematically confrontational or moumental. Space becomes reduced to the two dimensions of the page, but without destroying the motif. The chief aim remains the subjective, poetic evocation of a tender moment. After four years of war, the penchant for melancholy is not exactly surprising or exceptional.

Date:  1922
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Germany
Medium: Reedpen on paper
Signature: Signed and dated ‘ErichHeckel 22’ (lower left) and titled ‘Schlafende’ (lower right).

Dimensions: 63 x 50 cm (24³/₄ x 19⁵/₈ inches)
Provenance: Private collection, Spain
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints