On view exhibition

Never Apart.
Frames and Pictures by the
Brücke Artists

“I never display unframed pictures in exhibitions … if I do something, I do it as properly and as well as possible, otherwise I would rather not do it at all,” wrote Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in 1937, thus emphasising how crucial the picture frame was for him. The exhibition Never Apart highlights this bond and for the first time explores the special role and importance of the frame for the Brücke artists.

Indeed, Erich Heckel, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff also designed unique frames for their paintings: they employed special profiles, added carved ornamentation, and painted them in colour – always with a view toward creating a compositional unit alongside the picture’s content. Schmidt-Rottluff’s elaborate carvings clearly demonstrate his sculptural understanding of the frame. In the case of Kirchner, the brush often left the canvas and coloured the wood in tones used for the image, thus blurring the line dividing the two.

Be it in exhibition catalogues, on postcards or on the Internet – images by Brücke artists have always tended to be presented without their frames. Yet precisely, a gaze beyond the pictorial field proper offers unique insights into the artists’ ideas and intentions. The exhibition presents an exploration of the Brücke to include the artistic design of the picture frames, which along the lines of the Gesamtkunstwerk, expands the very notion of the image itself. Thanks to countless loans from national and international institutions, as well as many originally framed paintings from the Brücke-Museum collection, Never Apart offers visitors an overview of this hitherto neglected field of artistic endeavour.


The exhibition is curated by Werner Murrer and presented in cooperation with Buchheim Museum in Bernried (28 March–5 July 2020).