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Friedenauer Brücke (1899–today)

Under the Open Sky Big City Life

Erich Heckel, Vorstadt (Wannseebahn Berlin Friedenau), 1910, Brücke-Museum, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Friedenau was still a suburb of Berlin in the 1910s. The hustle and bustle of big city life was nowhere to be found in its quiet streets. But in spite of this, or perhaps precisely because of it, numerous artists and intellectuals were drawn to this middle-class area, including the Brücke artists. The Wannsee Railway provided a kind of lifeline, enabling them to quickly dive into the art and entertainment hub that was Berlin. A train was headed to Potsdamer Platz every ten minutes.

The railway line, which went into operation in the 1870s, ran along the border between Friedenau and Steglitz until shortly before the turn of the twentieth century. It was not until the construction of the Saar-Brücke (Saar Bridge) in 1899 (now known as the Friedenauer Brücke) that the two towns became connected once again. The new bridge was not only used by horse-drawn carriages and automobiles, but also by several tram lines.

View of the Friedenauer Brücke in northern direction, around 1920, © edition Friedenauer Brücke

Both Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were fascinated by such transformations in the cityscape and by the increasing pace of everyday life. Even before Heckel moved to Berlin, he painted the Friedenauer Brücke (Friedenauer Bridge) during a visit to his Brücke fellow Max Pechstein in 1910. When Kirchner moved to Körnerstrasse in Steglitz in 1913, he also frequently painted his surroundings – including the railway tracks, which he could see directly from his new studio.

Valentina Bay

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