Earlier this year, a German citizen purchased a thin brochure inscribed with the name “Brücke” for €5 at a local flea market. It turns out this was quite a find; the brochure was a catalogue for a 1912 travelling exhibition of the Die Brücke collective.
Die Brücke (“The Bridge”) was a German artists’ group formed in 1905 by four architectural students in Dresden– Ernest Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Enrich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. (Later members included Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, and Otto Mueller.) The group aimed to discover new methods of artistic expression and to “free themselves from the traditional academic style of the time.” Through doing so, they strived to create a bridge between the past and the present (hence the name of the group). The resulting artistic style is what we refer to today as Expressionism, which has the signifying trait of presenting the world “solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.”
In addition to developing their own individual art, Die Brücke had two other major objectives: to establish contact with artists with similar sensibilities and to introduce their new art to the public through collective exhibitions. The brochure that was found was a catalogue for one of these showcases and it has an interesting backstory. Apparently it wasn’t long after the exhibition went on tour that members of Die Brücke discovered that fellow artist Max Pechstein had also showed his work with Berlin Seccession, another artists’ association. As a result, Pechstein was expelled from Die Brücke for breaking the policy of only exhibiting as a group. The group even had the catalogue reprinted, omitting all of Pechstein’s work.
The catalogue found was produced prior to Pechstein’s dismissal, and only a handful of this version are said to exist. It contains 10 original woodcuts printed on thin, rose wove paper (two of the woodcuts are by Pechstein). Adding to the value of the catalogue, is that the 1912 exhibition was one of the group’s last; Die Brücke disbanded in 1913.
The catalogue will be offered by German auction house Ketterer Kunst as part of their rare books auction on November 19 and 20. Coincidentally, the last time this brochure was on the market was 30 years ago, when it was sold by the same auction house.