German *Expressionist painter and graphic artist, born at Liebau in Silesia (now Libawka, Poland). After four years' apprenticeship in lithography at Breslau he studied painting in Dresden, 1896–8, and remained based there until 1908. He was a prolific worker but later destroyed most of his paintings from these years. Those that survive show he was strongly influenced by the curvilinear forms of *Art Nouveau.
In 1908 he moved to Berlin and after being rejected by the Berlin *Sezession in 1910 he joined forces with other rejected artists to form the Neue Sezession; among them were members of Die *Brücke, which he also joined. Apart from *Kubišta—who became a member in theory rather than practice—he was the group's last significant recruit. Under the influence of other members, particularly *Kirchner, his style became more harsh and angular, with emphatic outlines. However, he remained distinct from them in certain ways. He painted in distemper, which produced a matt finish, and his gentle colour harmonies are very different from the brilliant or harsh hues often associated with German Expressionist painting. His whole outlook, in fact, was tranquil rather than violent, and his most typical paintings depict a kind of primitive Arcadia in which nude figures disport themselves in forests or on lake shores. After about 1920 he also did many gypsy subjects (his grandfather is said to have been a gypsy and he had great sympathy for their way of life, studying their culture at first hand in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania). From 1919 until his death he taught at the Academy in Breslau.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)