Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Erich Heckel

Erich Heckel was born in 1883 and died in 1970 in Germany. He was a painter and printmaker. Heckel was one of the four artists who founded Die Brucke. Die Brucke was a group of artists formed in Dresden, Germany in 1905, the other founding members were Frizt Bleyl, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The group was interested in primitivism within art as well as combining the painterly technique of Gauguin and Munch with an intense involvement with printmaking. The name Die Brucke (The Bridge) is symbolic of their attempt to merge past, present, and future and to move towards expressing the human condition and against depicting the changing/industrial world around them.

Franzi Reclining 1910 

Heckel's Franzi Reclining is a good example of the work that he did within the field of printmaking. Most of his prints are woodblocks with a limited palette (oftentimes limited to black and white) with expressive marks. Many of his figures and portraits are composed of faceted plains. The Die Brucke movement is cited as being influenced by African masks and Oceanic sculptures, and in Franzi Reclining you can see that influence within the flat/mask like quality in the face. To print, the block was cut into four pieces and inked separately with black and red. His prints in comparison to his paintings are more expressive yet use fewer colors. I included an image of Weisses Haus in Dangast To show the difference between his print work and his painting.

Weisses Haus in Dangast 1908 OIL PAINTING 


Junges Madchen / Young Woman 1913
The raw and expressive quality of Heckel's prints I find to be a strength of his work. Although the marks of many of the printmakers within the Die Brucke movement begin to melt together within my head, I still find those marks intriguing. His limited palette is something that I consider both a weakness and a strength. For some of the images the black on white paper adds to the drama of the piece but I do enjoy it more when he adds color, like in Portrait of a Man or Franzi Reclining. His color choices often add an insight into the person's well-being that he is depicting and I enjoy those narratives that could be told through limited color. I question why his paintings are so colorful yet his prints seems to remain with a limited color palette. I like that his paintings seem separate from the print work because it shows the importance of the printmaker's mark, how it is not just to replicate the painting. The expressive lines of the woodcut seem to show more emotion, it shows the mark of the hand which is something that the Die Brucke was interested in as a contrast to Industrial Society. 

Männerbildnis / Portrait of a Man 1919

Krankes Madchen / Sick Young Girl   1913

-Rachel Sperry

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