Roberta Smith reviews the Neue Galerie’s new show on Die Brücke in the New York Times. Calling them the original bad boys of art, Smith
By the time the Brücke disbanded, in 1913, it had revived a rawness of feeling, form and execution that had been largely absent from European art since early medieval times. It had made a place for itself in the Modernist repertory, the creed of Expressionism, an art made directly from, by and for the self, unrestrained by affectations of polish, reason or classical beauty. [ . . . ]
The Brücke artists were among the Peter Pans of Modernism. They refused to grow up or pipe down. Their art had a palpable Dada swagger before Dada, but their dreams had not yet been trammeled by World War I. Theirs was still a fairly cheerful barbarism. They were wary of the alienation and fragmentation of city life. At least until they relocated to Berlin in 1911, they thought they could regain what was good and natural if they just took off their clothes, danced around a bit and made art. Their idea of a good time was a communal painting session using several nude models who didn’t assume static poses, but lounged or cavorted at will.
They began by mixing together some Jugendstil, bits and pieces of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, along with a soupçon of Arts & Crafts. (Kirchner took up tapestry weaving and introduced the group to woodcut printmaking, one of its strengths. He also made his own furniture, none of which is in the show. The most visible signs of the group’s handicraft are the marvelous frames Pechstein carved for two of his paintings here.) The Brücke artists, like Picasso and Matisse, learned crucial lessons from Oceanic and African sculpture, and from peasant and children’s art.
Guys Who Put the Art in Party Animal (New York Times)