by Daniela Bystron

15 images

“Back to nature!” goes one of the best-known calls to action of the Reform movement at the turn of the 20th century. The years around 1900 were marked by industrialization, technological progress, scientific discoveries, economic growth, and an immense acceleration in the pace of everyday life. In response to this, numerous counter-movements arose, and the Reform movement was one of them. The latter advocated a lifestyle that was holistic and close to nature, as expressed through a new culture of the body and a cult of nature and animal protection, amongst other things.

The Brücke artists were also influenced by the changing times. Their ways of working and the subject matter they chose are notable for their close connection to nature. In contrast to the traditions of painting and academic training, they worked outside in natural settings, producing sketches from living, moving models. Numerous works were created outdoors, showing landscapes, forests, water scenes, the atmosphere of the seasons, animals and nudes in nature.

The group ideals of the Brücke artists were fostered through their collective summer sojourns. In a search for free forms of living beyond social conventions, they spent the summer months in various constellations by lakes or at the seaside with the specific aim of pursuing their studies of nature outside of the studio. During the Nazi period, in particular, the Brücke artists focused on politically innocuous depictions of landscapes – something that the relevant literature refers to as “inner emigration”.

Today, we are witnessing an increased interest in the topic of nature, which is revealed, amongst other things, in the heightened discussion on environmental pollution and globalization, not to mention in the desire to retreat to a private space.