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Stop 4 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 Emma Ritter (1911–1913/14)

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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Letterhead for Emma Ritter, 1911, Brücke-Museum, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Emma Ritter, around 1912, photo: unknown

In the same year that the Brücke artists moved from Dresden to Berlin, the Oldenburg-based artist Emma Ritter also decided to move to the art metropolis. In 1911, she initially stayed with Emy Frisch (later Schmidt-Rottluff), who helped her find her own apartment in Friedenau at Schmargendorfer Straße 1 a few months later. The two women had met through Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, whom Ritter first got to know in 1909 while she was staying in the seaside resort Dangast on the North Sea. A close exchange between Ritter and the Brücke artists ensued from then on, and it also continued in Berlin. Ritter’s live-in studio was only a short walk from Schmidt-Rottluff’s home at Niedstraße 14.

While Ritter was well-known in Oldenburg artist circles and exhibited there regularly, she found it more difficult than her male colleagues to get a foothold in Berlin’s art scene. Nevertheless, the Expressionist artist still participated in the Freie Secession’s (Free Secessions`) first exhibition in 1914. Her decision to become an artist as a woman in Imperial Germany had already required a great deal of effort, not to mention financial means. After all, academic training on equal footing with men only became possible for women when the art universities were opened up after the end of the First World War . Thus, like many other women artists, Ritter primarily took private lessons — with Lovis Corinth, among others.

View of Schmargendorfer Strasse, around 1928, © edition Friedenauer Brücke

Of her time in Berlin, Ritter herself observed: “life [was] in the circle of my friends, the artists mainly.” In addition to Schmidt-Rottluff and Frisch, these also included Erich Heckel, Max Pechstein, Maschka and Otto Mueller, and Lyonel Feininger. In 1915, when Schmidt-Rottluff was drafted for military service, Ritter took over his premises at Niedstraße 14 for a while, and in 1918 she moved into an apartment in the house across the street.

The longstanding neglect of women artists in art history combined with the loss of a large part of her oeuvre during the Second World War have led to Emma Ritter’s name only being known to a few people today. In the Brücke-Museum’s collection, the only reference to the painter is a letterhead that Schmidt-Rottluff designed for her in 1911.

Antonia Moldenhauer

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