Christian Rohlfs (German, 1849–1938) was a painter, and is considered to be one of the pioneers of German Expressionism. Born in Niendorf, Rohlfs studied art in Berlin and, later, Weimar, where he was exposed to the naturalistic figure painting tradition. Though he painted large-scale landscapes in the style of academic realism for much of his career, beginning in the 1880s, color became an increasingly central element in his work. During this time, he was influenced by French Impressionism and, in particular, by Post-Impressionism and the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.

Around 1900, Rohlfs began painting with Emil Nolde, and was influenced by the spontaneous and emotional quality of works produced by Die Brücke. After attending an exhibition of prints by these artists in 1907, Rohlfs turned to printmaking.

In 1937, after the rise of the Nazi party, 16 of his works were featured in the Degenerate Art exhibition, and 412 works were confiscated from museums in Germany.

The artist died in Hagen. Today, his paintings can be found in numerous institutions around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Folkwang Museum in Germany, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Spain.

Timeline

1849
Born in Niendorf, Germany
1870
Studied under Paul Thumann at Grand-Ducal Academy, Weimar, Germany
1881
Moved into his own studio together with the painter Eddelbüttel, Weimar, Germany
1892
Belatedly awarded the title of Professor by the director of the Weimar Academy, Hans Olde
1907
Became a member of the Special Association of West German Art Patrons and Artists (Sonderbund)
1914
Became a full member of the Freie Sezession, Berlin, and took part in its exhibitions
1922
Awarded the academic title of Dr.-Ing. e.h. by the Technical University of Aachen, Germany
1924
Given the freedom of the city of Hagen and admitted to the Prussian Academy of Arts, Berlin, on the occasion of his 75th birthday
1925
Awarded the honorary degree of Dr.phil. h.c. by the University of Kiel, Germany
1925
Honorary member of the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf
1929
Foundation of the Christian Rohlfs Museum, Hagen, Germany
1937
16 of Rohlfs's works were shown in the exhibition of Degenerate Art; banned from exhibiting
1937
Expelled from the Prussian Academy of Arts, Berlin
1937
412 of his works were confiscated from museums
1938
Died in Hagen, Germany
1938
The Nazis banned the sale of his works

Exhibitions

1938
Remembrance exhibitions in Basel, Berne and Zurich
1937
Sixteen of Rohlfs' works are shown in the exhibition of "Degenerate Art"
1937
F. Möller Gallery, Berlin
1936
Institute of Arts, Detroit
1936
Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, Germany
1930
Schleswig-Holsteinischer Kunstverein, Kiel, Germany
1925
Special exhibitions marking his 75th birthday in Berlin, Erfurt, Danzig and Kiel, Germany
1920
Paul Cassirer's gallery, Berlin
1919
Special exhibitions marking Rohlfs' 70th birthday at the National Gallery in Berlin, the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover and the A. Flechtheim Gallery in Düsseldorf
1918
Kunstverein Frankfurt, Frankfurt
1918
I.B. Neumann Gallery, Berlin
1913
Special exhibition at Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg
1910
Grand-Ducal Museum, Weimar
1909
Folkwang-Museum, Essen, Germany
1909
Sonderbund's exhibition, Düsseldorf
1909
Black-and-White Exhibition of the Berlin Sezession
1904
Special exhibition at the Kunstverein in Jena, Germany
1890
Academy of Arts, Berlin
1880
Exhibits his painting 'Roman Builders' (1879), Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Düsselorf
1877
Weimar Art Academy, Weimar, Germany