Kneeling One (Kniende)
Even as they sought to transform Western art, German Expressionists continued to engage with the conventional subject of the female nude. This figure’s angular, stylized forms and masklike face, and the stool from Cameroon beside her, reflect the fascination with non-Western art and culture among many modernist artists, and what they believed to be its authenticity and closeness to nature. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff specifically drew from Western and Central African sculptures, which were entering German ethnological museum collections in unprecedented numbers in the aftermath of colonial conquest.
In 1905 Schmidt-Rottluff cofounded the German avant-garde Expressionist movement Die Brücke (The Bridge) with Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose work can be seen nearby. Reflecting the radical break from naturalistic norms of traditional art, Die Brücke artists adopted a vocabulary of simplified or distorted forms and strong colors. Woodcuts, central to the group’s practice, account for well over half of the nearly seven hundred prints that Schmidt-Rottluff produced. The medium represented a cultural link between the group and earlier German artists such as Albrecht Dürer, and enabled its members to convey the physicality of carving and the textural qualities of wood with great immediacy and energy.
Woodcut on laid paper
Image: 19 5/8 x 15 7/16 in. (49.8 x 39.2 cm)
Sheet: 24 7/16 x 20 in. (62.1 x 50.8 cm)
Signed, "S. Rottluff" lower right margin in graphite
"1292/11" (?) is inscribed in graphite near the lower left corner. There is a partially erased graphite inscription "38 S. ch." (?) near the lower right corner.
This item is not on view
Frederick Loeser Fund
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