As the son of a railway construction engineer, Erich Heckel was born on July 31, 1883 in Döbeln in Germany. Originally he studied architecture at the Technical University of Dresden and, as an autodidact, he acquired the art of painting and graphic arts himself. His artistic activity stretches over six decades and changed from a Post-Impressionist style to Expressionism. Today Erich Heckel counts among the most important painters of the 20th century, whose preferred motifs include landscapes and nudes.
Erich Heckel is one of the founding members of the Dresden artists' group "Brücke", which was later joined by Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde, alongside the German painters Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl. From 1909 onwards, the Brücke painters developed a distinctive group style, whose themes were often human movement, city life, but also landscapes and nudes, and whose work is considered to be groundbreaking for Classic Modernism. With the concentration of Germany's modern art scene in Berlin, Heckel also moved to the German capital in 1911, where he met artists such as Lyonel Feininger, Franz Marc and August Macke. After the dissolution of the Brücke group of painters in 1913 Heckel's first solo exhibition took place at the Galerie Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin, which presented drawings and paintings by Erich Heckel. During the First World War Heckel, together with other painters, was trained as a paramedic, which also gave him time to paint during the war years and made new acquaintances with artists. In 1922 he was commissioned to design a room in the Angermuseum in Erfurt and created a wall cycle in secco-technique - the only remaining wall painting of the Brücke group. In the following years Heckel undertook many journeys, among others to the Alps, to Southern France, to Italy and Carinthia, on which a multitude of watercolours were created. In 1931 a first retrospective of his art was shown in Chemnitzer Kunsthütte. Due to the classification of his works as degenerate art, art burning and a bomb attack on Heckel's studio, a large part of his works was lost during the Second World War. During the war he found refuge with a friend in Hemmenhofen on Lake Constance in 1944, where he stayed until his death in 1970. Erich Heckl is today considered one of the most important representatives of German Expressionism, whose drawings, paintings and woodcuts are regularly traded on the art market. His works can be found in renowned museums and private collections such as the Neue Galerie in New York, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Brücke Museum in Berlin.