Otto Mueller  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Otto Mueller (October 16, 1874September 24, 1930) was a German painter and printmaker of the Die Brücke expressionist movement.

Life and work

Otto Mueller was born in Liebau (now Lubawka, Poland), Kreis Landeshut, German Silesia. Between 1890-1892 he was trained in lithography in Görlitz and Breslau. From 1894 to 1896 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and continued his study in Munich 1898. He left Munich's academy after Franz von Stuck classified him as untalented.

His early works are influenced by impressionism, Jugendstil and symbolism. When he settled to Berlin in 1908, he turned more and more to the expressionism. During this time there were meetings with Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Rainer Maria Rilke and Erich Heckel. In 1910, he joined 'Die Brücke', a Dresden-based group of Expressionist artists. He was member of the group until it disbanded in 1913 due to artistic differences. At the same time Mueller also had contact with the artists group of the 'Blaue Reiter'.

During the World War I he fought as a German soldier in France and Russia. After the war he became professor at the academy of arts (Akademie der Bildenden Kunste) in Breslau where he taught until his death on September 24, 1930. Johnny Friedlaender and Isidor Ascheim were among his pupils there. Altogether his printmaking amounted to 172 prints, in woodcut, etching and lithography.

In 1937 the Nazis seized 357 of his works from German museums, since the pictures were considered as degenerate art.

Mueller was one of the most lyrical of German expressionist painters. The central topic in Mueller's works is the unity of humans and nature, whereas his paintings are focused on a harmonious simplification of form, colour and contours. He is especially known for his characteristic paintings of nudes and gypsy women.

Otto Mueller never attributed heroism to the landscape, never dramatism, nor even an incling of "pittoresque“. He describes the landscape soberly but nevertheless with vivid emotions.

Paintings of nature

His paintings of nature shadow complete silence into the spectator. Neither thunder clap, wave rumbling nor a wind rush through the tree top can be heard. Everything is awake though enshrouded in deep silence. Der Waldweg, c. 1928.

All those many names of expressionists listed in catalogues may have been forgotten or maintain only a weak eccho. This is not so with Otto Muellers' paintings. They timeless as they are complete artistic realisations, complete in perception and in craft. They hold a magical attraction as all great pieces of art and carry this athmosphere throughout the years. Maybe the secret of his art is its combination of a dream, life and artistic esprit. Even in the end of his life his paintings did not decrease in beauty and uniqueness. How few painters have existed, who hold the same trait. His paintings reflect his character better than most painters of his time.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Otto Mueller" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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