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Nida Artist Colony

The small village of Nidden, today called Nida, surrounded by dunes and located in the remoteness of the Courland Spit on the Baltic Sea, was a place of interest for painters as early as in the late 19th century. The animal painter Heinrich Krüger (1863-1901), who was especially interested in elks, explored the region together with his friends Eduard Andersen and Ernst Bischoff from Culm (Ernst Bischoff-Culm) in the 1880s. The latter had studied Impressionism in Paris and Berlin, returning to Nidden with fresh ideas at the end of the century.
Lovis Corinth had already been painting in Nidden in the late 19th century, for instance the gloomy picture "Friedhof in Nidden" (Nidden Cemetery, 1893). Just as many of his painter colleagues, Lovis Corinth must have also stayed at the inn of Hermann Blode, where the artists' colony began to form.
Teachers from the Königsberg academy, such as Georg Knorr, came to Nidden in order to congregate at Blode's inn. Knorr, just as Emil Neide (1842-1908), counts among the early regulars, they were followed by other Königsberg teachers: Otto Heichert, at times Karl Storch, Karl Albrecht and Heinrich Wolff. Lively discussions in Blode's artists room or on the inn's terrace united the Nidden circle, to which other artists, such Hans Beppo Borschke, Alfred Helberger, Bertha Schütz etc., also belonged.
The then predominant style was obliged to Impressionism, Nidden attained its greatest importance in connection with early Expressionism, specifically with the painters of the "Brücke" (Bridge).
Max Pechstein (1881-1955) visited Nidden for the first time in the summer of 1909. He found his way to an expressive planeness, inspired by the light and the forms of the dune landscapes. In 1911 and 1912 two further stays in Nidden followed. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) came to Nidden in May 1913, after the group "Brücke" had broken up, he also developed his art in the village's remoteness. The Nidden artists' colony did not linger unimpressed by the expressionists, especially by Max Pechstein, as works by Hans Beppo Borschke, Bertha Schütz and Arthur Gehrmann are proof of.
The war interrupted this development, many painters were drafted and did not return from the front. A new generation of artists arrived Nidden after the war, now mostly students of the Königsberg academy: Eduard Bischoff, Ernst Mollenhauer, who would later take over and continue the Blode inn, Georg Kolm and numerous others. Max Pechstein also returned in 1919 and stayed for the duration of two summers, as he was hooked by the youth's energy.
In 1920 Nidden was under French administration and in 1923 it became a part of Lithuania, so that foreigners stopped coming. Oskar Moll, who counted among the friends of Schmidt-Rottluff, is said to have been among the visitors in the 1920s. A phase of a romantic New Objectivity is connected with Fritz Burmann (1892-1945), who was called to the Königsberg academy in 1926. Richard Theodor Birnstengel, who had been a regular guest in Nidden as of 1930, made similar achievements. World War II finally introduced the end of the artists' colony, however, its position in art history is closely connected to Expressionism's most decisive developments.


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