Brücke-Museum Berlin, Christiane Remm (Hg.) : Otto Mueller. 144 Seiten, 111 Abbildungen überw. in Farbe, 23 x 28 cm, gebunden, ISBN: 978-3-7774-2333-3, 34,90 €
(Hirmer Verlag, München 2014)
Compte rendu par Ingrid Leonie Dr. Severin

Nombre de mots : 790 mots
Publié en ligne le 2017-03-28
Citation: Histara les comptes rendus (ISSN 2100-0700).
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          This monograph, edited by the director of the Brücke-Museum Berlin, Magdalena M. Moeller, with texts by Christiane Remm, was published in 2014, on the occasion of the “Otto Mueller” exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Ravensburg (13.09.2014-25.01.2015), the Brücke-Museum Berlin (21.03.-05.07.2015), and at the Kunsthalle Emden (19.09.2015-17.01.2016). This is a comprehensive monograph that presents the artistic development of Otto Mueller (1874-1930), considered to be among the most important German Expressionists[1]. The author Christiane Remm describes his artistic career along a biographical path, from his artistic beginnings, his time in Fehmarn 1908, that were followed by the years in Berlin (1908-1918) where he was member of the Brücke-Movement, ending with a third part about Otto Mueller's time as a Professor in Breslau (1919-1930)— each timespan is underlined by selected topics such as nudes in landscapes, lovers, portraits, pictures of gypsies. These topics divide this biographical narrative into an exhibition catalogue with intertwined thematic parts. Reprints of nine coloured lithographs of the "gypsy portfolio" - a portfolio considered to be among his best works - are added towards the end of the book, in a chapter dealing with his gypsy motifs. (p.96-p.104).[2]


          His early works are deeply influenced by Impressionism, Jugendstil and Symbolism. When he settled in Berlin in 1908, his style became more “expressionistic”. He met the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and the painter Erich Heckel. In 1910, he joined 'Die Brücke', a group of  Dresden-based Expressionist artists. He was member of this group until it disbanded in 1913 due to artistic differences. At the same time Mueller had contact with another artists group The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) in Munich. During World War I he became a German soldier in Belgium (Namur) France and 1917 Russia.


          In the first part of the monographic catalogue-book Remm describes his early steps towards becoming an artist and painter and then introduces Maschka his first muse and wife, portrayed in several pictures with clear iconographical references to the tradition of paintings of nude female bodies, especially to the work of Titian and Cranach. His search for the archetypical paradise was a dominant topic in his search for landscapes and places to represent this, but also in his variations of the female body, outdoors, on a beach or lake-site or forest. The portrayals reflect Mueller's mastery of reproducing human figures in a format-filling manner. They are slender, with long extremities, like the sculptures of his friend Wilhelm Lehmbruck.


          In 1919 having had his first major exhibition at Paul Cassirer Gallery, Mueller became a professor at the Academy of Arts (Akademie der Bildenden Künste) in Breslau, where he taught until his death on 24 September 1930. Remm shows a convincing biographical arrangement of facts and reproductions of Mueller’s artistic work, and portrays with a lot of details how this second phase of his search differs from the first, and presents Muellers work developing towards more synergetic abstract paintings and lithographs. His main topics remain the same, the female figures become “prototypes for perfection, harmony and happiness”. This artistic escapism into perfection, harmony and happiness is mentioned briefly and remains unexplained on a deeper level, even if this part of the text allows new details on Mueller’s life.


          From 1924 onward Otto Mueller travelled and visited the Southeast of Europe several times. There he encountered, Sinti and Roma. He began to develop a specific interest in these ethnic groups, he portrayed them in their very intimate, private environment surrounded by their family.  These lithographs as well as the other works published in this monograph demonstrate how Mueller was intensely engaged in the possibility of authentic depiction of the human being and nature. Lothar-Günther Buchheim, author, wrote the first detailed monograph on Otto Mueller in 1963, and he mentions Mueller,  "... a strange human being, who is surrounded by mystery, and the magical one". In 1937 the Nazis seized 357 of his works from German museums, since the pictures were considered to be degenerate art.



[1] Other previous more comprehensive catalogues on Otto Mueller include:

2003 (München) Mario Andreas von Lüttichau u. Tanja Pirsig: Otto Mueller. Eine Retrospektive. Werkverzeichnis. München: Prestel, 2003.

Magdalena M. Moeller (Hg.): Auf der Suche nach dem Ursprünglichen. Mensch und Natur im Werk von Otto Mueller und den Künstlern der Brücke. Berlin: Brücke-Museum, 2004.

[2]    Nicole Fritz (Ed.) Otto Mueller. Gegenwelten. Sinti und Roma in der historischen Fotografie, Bielefeld Berlin 2014.





Vorwort, 7


Kindheit und Jugend: Künstlerische Anfänge, 9

Selbststudium in München
Maschka - Muse seiner Kunst
Fehmarn 1908


Die Berliner Jahre, 31

Künstlergruppe »Brücke«
Akte in der Landschaft I
Themen 1912-1918


Breslau, 85

Akte in der Landschaft II
Reisen durch Südosteuropa
Letzte Schaffensjahre


Biographische Notizen, 134


Abgebildete Werke von Otto Mueller, 136


Literaturverzeichnis, 138


Personenverzeichnis, 142