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Stop 3 on Audio Walk: A Bridge to the Future

This audio walk developed by the artist duo Po:era takes us to six addresses in Friedenau where the Brücke artists lived, as well as their friend, the painter Emma Ritter, and Emy Frisch, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s future wife and the photo documentarian of the group. From their perspective, we learn more about the people behind the art of the Brücke and how they challenged the conventions of their era outside of their artistic work.

Across six chapters, Po:era draws on historical facts to tell fictionalised stories that could have occurred at the different locations in one way or another. Based on classic radio play formats, the scenes are embedded in an accompanying narrative that not only contains information about each of the addresses and tips for the walk through Friedenau, but also repeatedly makes links back to the present day and situates the accomplishments of the artists’ group in contemporary discourses.


We recommend completing the audio walk in the suggested order and in one go, which should take approximately 90 minutes. The start point is at Durlacher Straße 15, near Bundesplatz S-Bahn station. The route to each of the next stops is marked on the map, which makes it easier to find your way around if you have location services enabled on your smartphone. Each chapter has photographs to help identify the correct buildings, but they can also be accessed in any order and from the comfort of your own home. Accompanying music at the end of each chapter enhances the walks between the stops and gives listeners a feel for the period when the Brücke artists lived in Berlin. Good-quality headphones will provide the best listening experience.

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Live-in studio of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1911–1933)

Living and Working

Berlin’s tranquil Friedenau district has attracted many artists and writers since the turn of the century. Among them was Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who moved from Dresden to Berlin in the autumn of 1911, together with Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Schmidt-Rottluff took up residence in the top floor of Niedstraße 14, which was officially only supposed to be used as a studio; sleeping there overnight was prohibited for fire safety reasons. However, like his friends, Schmidt-Rottluff ignored the rule and used the space as his home. Wary of potential inspections, he stowed most of his furniture in a separate storage space during the day.

Compared to Kirchner and Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff took a more restrained approach to the decoration of his living and working space, although he did adorn it with embroidered and batik curtains.

“One curtain hung in front of the entry door, another in front of the furnace heating. Both curtains had abstract decorative elements with no recognisable figures. An adjoining room was concealed behind a curtain with a non-representational batik pattern. The centrepiece, an embroidered wall hanging, depicted a seated figure against an open background. It was vibrantly coloured and embellished with delicate appliqués of thin metallic foils.”

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in conversation with the collector Karlheinz Gabler, autumn 1970

The artist soon took to designing furniture for his flat, including a cupboard with Cubist elements. He had commissioned the piece from a cabinetmaker in Dangast – who had built it from Schmidt-Rottluff’s own sketches – and given it a bright coat of paint.
Schmidt-Rottluff married Emy Frisch in 1919, after which he moved into her residence on nearby Stierstraße, but kept the Niedstraße space as his studio. The short seven-minute walk from one location to the other became his daily routine until 1933.

Even after Schmidt-Rottluff moved out, Niedstraße continued to be a lively centre for artists. Notably, a number of writers took up residence there, including Erich Kästner and Günter Grass. In 1959, the writer Uwe Johnson moved into the same space that had once been Schmidt-Rottluff’s live-in studio. In the mid-2000s, Niedstraße found its way onto German television with the popular comedy-drama series Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners).

Antonia Moldenhauer and Isabel Fischer

Niedstraße corner Handjerystraße, 1925, Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 (01) No. II12734, photo: Bruno Romey

Explore Berlin through the Eyes of the Brücke Artists
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