* 1881 New York
† 1947 Irschenhausen
Adolf Erbslöh was born in New York, where his father was on business, on 27 May 1881. Several years later the family returned to Germany. After half a year of training in business, Erbslöh enrolled in 1901 at the Karlsruhe Academy to study art. There he met Alexander Kanoldt and they remained lifelong friends. In 1904 Erbslöh transferred to the Munich Academy to continue his studies under Ludwig von Herterich. His encounter with Alexei von Jawlensky would shape the further course of his artistic development. In 1909 Erbslöh was a co-founder and secretary of the Neue Künstlervereinigung Munich (NKV), which included Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Kanoldt, Münter, Werefkin et al. This was the circle from which the Blauer Reiter would emerge. The salient feature of the new art is stringently stylizing rendering of forms linked with a saturated palette and an emphasis on rhythmicised surfaces that reveal affinities with Expressionism. After travelling in Italy, Erbslöh was conscripted into national service in 1914, serving as a war painter on the Western Front throughout the war. In 1916 he joined the 'Munich New Secession'. The 1920s saw him taking numerous journeys, on which he painted landscapes. Mountains especially were continually being varied as his motif of choice. From 1927 the painter lived mainly on Lake Constance and in Upper Bavaria, where he finally bought a house in the Isar Valley in 1934. After a major retrospective at the Barmen Kunstverein in 1931, nothing more was heard from Erbslöh. Since exhibiting and working in public were no longer possible from 1933, the artist lived in retirement with his family at Irschenhausen. There he painted a great many portraits of family members and friends. In addition, he captured his immediate surroundings in small formats: his garden, his house, the local church and meadows. Much remained unfinished and scarcely a work was still signed. Remote from all prevailing trends, the artist remained a leading exponent of classical modernism, whose work reflects the heady developments in art that took place in the first half of the 20th century without, however, being at all derivative.