Karl Schmidt-Rottluff



Material / Technique
Bildmaß 76 × 90 cm
Rahmenmaß 90 × 104 × 4,5 cm
Related Digital Projects
Acquisition details
Erworben 1964 als Schenkung von Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Afrikanisches, 1954, Öl auf Leinwand, Brücke-Museum, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Exhibitions (selection)

Literature (selection)

  • Werner Stein, Berlin (Hg.), Verzeichnis der zur Eröffnung ausgestellten Werke September 1967 bis März 1968, Ausst.-Kat. Brücke-Museum, Berlin 1967.

  • Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Das nachgelassene Werk seit den zwanziger Jahren. Malerei, Plastik, Kunsthandwerk, Ausst.-Kat. Brücke-Museum Berlin, Berlin 1977.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Der Maler, Ausst.-Kat. Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf / Städtische Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz / Brücke-Museum Berlin , Hatje, Stuttgart 1992.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller, Tayfun Belgin (Hg.), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Ein Maler des 20. Jahrhunderts. Gemälde, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen von 1905 bis 1972, Ausst.-Kat. Museum am Ostwall Dortmund/ Kunsthalle zu Kiel/Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig , Hirmer Verlag, München 2001.

  • Ralph Melcher (Hg.), Die Brücke in der Südsee. Exotik der Farbe, Ausst.-Kat. Saarlandmuseum Saarbrücken, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke-Museum Berlin, Malerei und Plastik. Kommentiertes Verzeichnis der Bestände, Hirmer Verlag, München 2006.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Landschaft - Figur - Stilleben, Ausst.-Kat. Brücke-Museum, Berlin, Hirmer Verlag, München 2014.

  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.), Brücke Museum Highlights, Hirmer Verlag, München 2017.


Signiert unten links: S.Rottluff (Signatur)
Rückseitig auf dem Keilrahmen: Schmidt=Rottluff "Afrikanisches" ((545)) (Bezeichnung)

Inventory Number

Catalog Number
Grohmann S. 308, Tafel S. 157

(Aischa Sane)

Colonial Looting as Inspiration

A commentary on cultural imperialism

What do images by European artists tell us about their fascination and engagement with culturally significant objects from the African continent? What do they say about inspiration, appropriation, colonial looting?

The still life Afrikanisches (African Objects) from 1954 features a small collection of African sculptures: a buffalo mask as well as ostensibly handmade vases and vessels. The work probably depicts exhibits from Schmidt-Rottluff’s personal collection.

The Expressionist is not alone in his fascination with non-European art objects: other European modernists also focused on works from Africa and Oceania. Schmidt-Rottluff seemed to see a “wild” primitivism in the African exhibits that served as inspiration for his own artistic expression. This approach suggests the following: the accumulation of snatched exhibits – and thus the accumulation of a cultural identity – requires no cultural, historical or material appreciation, even though the ongoing process of theft reveals the opposite. For when they arrived in Europe, young, curious artists such as Schmidt-Rottluff scrambled after these very works of art and quenched their own thirst for inspiration and new ideas – at the constant expense of those who had to give up their culture for the thirst and abundance of others. As objects of interest, the exhibits exist not only as inspiration for the hungry European artist, but also as the tangible manifestation of colonial violence. At the same time, there is a debasement of the colonised civilisation and all that it produces.

With the appropriation of their art, the colonised people are robbed of their culture and history. And this could almost be considered the highest and most enduring form of brutality in a colonial relationship of violence: stealing the very foundations of a population’s identity, the art and culture it creates as a celebration and reflection of its human existence. Every African or Oceanian exhibit tells a story, one that the European artist is unable or even unwilling to grasp and address in its entirety. For this is how the European interprets a colonial object: as something that can be possessed, marvelled at, replicated and utilised – but not as something that deserves to be understood, valued and compensated for in its autonomy.

Nevertheless, the self-evident availability of significant cultural goods continues to shape the German (artistic) self to this day, even if this is now taken up and addressed in the context of restitution debates. One hundred years later, Schmidt-Rottluff is still celebrated for his works, while the violence that must precede these very works is not being made up for with institutional participation in a discourse that is becoming more and more popular. Appreciation only takes place, if at all, through a colonial lens. One that considers the creators of the work – both the individual and the society that cultivated this individual’s artistic being – to be little more than a pillar of their own artistic development.

There is a silent consensus among those whose individualistic expression is based on the exploitation of others – whether they are an artist, viewer or those who write about it: the suffering and exclusion of others is an assumed prerequisite for enabling your own free development. We are still silent about the brutality of this matter of course – until today, even today.

(Juri & Johan ) Interview
(Emilia & Elena ) Interview Cultural Appropriation
(Aischa Sane )
Colonial Looting as Inspiration
(Noah Sow )
Cultural Appropriation
(Sandi ) Colours
(Sandi ) Cold Colours
(Sandi ) Mask