top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Julien Drouart

Brücke Museum: Expressionism on the edge of the forest

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

The Brücke Museum refers to an expressionist movement that had its moment of glory in Germany at the beginning of the last century. Rather difficult to access, it is struggling to be democratized despite the quality of the works presented.

A visit to the Brücke Museum is optional.

Expressionism is an avant-garde movement that became the preserve of artists in the early 20th century who sought to challenge the codes and norms established by society and the monumental, classical cultural institutions. The use of bright colours, the attraction for primitive art and the creative but tortured spirit of others contrasted with the customs of the time. For many, this disturbing originality was a symbol of decadence, criticised by conservative society for carrying the seeds of a challenge to the moral, pyramidal and codified order.

Everywhere, young people appropriated the expressionist style, modifying it, adapting it and adding to it the immediacy of the drawing and an intrinsic social critique. The Brücke movement took off in Dresden and Berlin around an emblematic figure, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, while Kandinsky and Marc founded the Blaue Reiter in southern Bavaria.This iconoclastic euphoria ran out of steam with the disaster of the First World War and was finally condemned by the National Socialist regime under the infamous accusation of degenerate art.

In the 1960s, the rediscovery of diversity became a necessity for German society in the throes of generational shock, and a museum dedicated to the Brücke movement was opened in the American sector in Dahlem.

An idyllic setting where elitist culture remains

Located on the western edge of the city, the museum is bordered by the immense Grunewald forest. The location is not insignificant; it cleverly recalls the powerful relationship, the bridge (literally "eine Brücke" in German) between man and nature, which the artists of the movement transcribed in their work.

The welcome is pleasant, the price democratic but relatively high considering the rather small size of the museum and the number of works exhibited; works which are splendid and extremely well presented. Nevertheless, the absence of informative notes leaves the uninitiated with a deep sense of bitterness. Some will object that Expressionism plays on an impression and immediacy that play on the descriptive and explanatory. This would be to forget that the artistic movement was codified following critical and academic work. In this sense, the relationship to the work has been normalised.

But in the absence of a qualified speaker available to the profane or of inserts presenting both the originality of the work and its context, the museum maintains a culture that is difficult to access, thereby reinforcing social antagonisms. This relationship is perhaps strengthened by the opulence of the residential area in which the museum is located.

For the novice, a guided tour is necessary

It is difficult to judge an artistic movement, especially because it takes off and fizzles out within a historical and cultural framework limited in time and space. What seemed iconoclastic may one day find itself associated with institutional culture. Out of context, the aesthetic feeling and innovative techniques remain. The Brücke movement is one of the most remarkable artistic movements I know of. But the museum is very difficult for the novice to enter.

No one is asking to match the size and fame of an institution like the MuMoK in Vienna: in Murnau, Bavaria, the Münter House, dedicated to Kandinsky and Münter, the leading figures of the Blaue Reiter, is even smaller than the Brücke Museum and yet much more accessible and informative. It is therefore advisable to give priority to educational support and to visit this museum under the guidance of its staff, who are committed and competent in this area.

Reasons to go

  • A charming and intimate setting

  • Regularly renewed exhibitions

  • The wealth of works on display

Reasons to avoid

  • Not very accessible information

  • An out-of-the-way site with poor access

15 views0 comments
bottom of page