The German painter, graphic artist and sculptor Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was born on December 1, 1884 in Rottluff near Chemnitz as Karl Schmidt. Initially his work was influenced by Impressionism but changed to Expressionism. As co-founder of the artists' group "Brücke", he was one of the most important artists of his time. He died on August 10, 1976 in Berlin.
From 1905 Schmidt-Rottluff studied architecture at the Technical University of Dresden. Together with his school friend Erich Heckel and his fellow students Fritz Bleyl and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, he founded the artists' group "Brücke" in 1905, whose first exhibition took place in Leipzig that same year. From this year on, he bears the double name Schmidt-Rottluff by adding his place of birth. In addition to the Brücke painters, he was also in contact with other artist groups, such as the Neue Secession in Berlin, the Blauer Reiter group in Munich and the Sonderbund in Cologne, in whose exhibitions he participated in 1910 and 1912. After the dissolution of the Brücke group, he joined the Free Secession in Berlin in 1914, where his first solo exhibition took place. In his initially Impressionist works he primarily depicted North German and Scandinavian landscapes. After his move to Berlin in 1911, geometric forms and, from 1923 onwards, round, curved forms increasingly appeared. Schmidt-Rottluff participated in the last annual exhibition of the Deutscher Künstlerbund in 1936 at the Hamburger Kunstverein, before his art was classified as "degenerate" and confiscated in 1937. In 1941 his exclusion from the Künstlerbund is followed by the imposition of a ban on his profession, which he disregards. After his Berlin studio and apartment were destroyed in a bombing raid, he moved to his birthplace Rottluff near Chemnitz from 1943 to 1946, before returning to Berlin in 1947 to take up a professorship at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste. During this time, he created his well-known large-format watercolors. In 1950 he became chairman of the board of the refounded Deutscher Künstlerbund, in 1955 he participated in the documenta I in Kassel and in 1956 he was awarded the Pour le Mérite order for science and art.