Otto Mueller

Biography of Otto Mueller

Pioneering exponent of the Die Brücke expressionist movement, Otto Mueller, was an accomplished painter and printmaker. His harmonious simplification of form and color gave his work a distinctive vibrancy, and in much of his work he sought to form a link between man and nature.

 

Born in Silesia in Germany in 1874, Otto Mueller trained in lithography in Görlitz before taking up a place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden between 1894-6. His studies continued at the Munich academy in 1898 until he left under a cloud following at altercation with his teacher, Franz von Stuck, who dissuaded him from continuing with his studies.

 

After moving to Munich, Otto Mueller cycled to Dresden in 1899, remaining there till 1908. He was deeply influenced by the sculptures of Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and the two formed a close bond. His move to Berlin in around 1908 put him into contact with the group of artists known as the Brücke artists, that included the artist Erich Heckel.

 

Otto Mueller’s career was interrupted by two years during which he fought in the World War I from 1916—18. In 1919 he became a professor at the Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in Breslau, a post he would hold until his death in 1930. His work had a decorative aspect, partly emanating from his origins in Art Nouveau, but he made a significant change in styles when embracing Expressionism. Concentrating on the female nude, he began moving towards a broader and bolder style.

 

In 1937 the Nazis seized 357 of Otto Mueller’s works and labelled them “degenerate.” In 1955 many works of his were exhibited posthumously at documenta 1 in Kassel, Germany. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Munich Kunsthalle in 2003. Many of his works are permanently held at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. In 2010 the Otto Mueller Association was founded in Weimar, to look after his legacy and celebrate the work of this deeply popular German artist. 

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