Heinrich Campendonk – A German Expressionist Painter & Printmaker

Heinrich Campendonk, a German ‘Expressionist’ printmaker and painter, was born on November 03, 1889, at Krefeld, Germany. He completed his studies at Krefeld Kunstgewerbeschule, under the guidance of the famous Dutch artist, Johan-Thorn Prikker. Campendonk started his own studio in 1908, at Krefeld, and shared his work with August Macke, a German Expressionist painter.

1911 was an eventful year for the artist. This year, Macke showed Heinrich’s work to the Russian artist, Wasily Kandinsky. Later in the year, Franz Marc, another German ‘Expressionist’ painter, invited Campendonk to Bavaria, Sindelsdorf, which the artist honored and settled in Bavaria. In 1911 only, he met an art dealer, Alfred Flechtheim. The same year, in Sindelsdorf, he joined the art group, ‘Der Blauer Reiter’ and stayed with it until 1912. Enjoying a good rapport with the group, Heinrich participated and displayed his artworks with the group at various exhibitions.

Campendonk usually portrayed the relationship between humans & beasts, and life’s cycles as the key themes of his artworks. The paintings were mostly a confluence of geometrical figures and colors, both complementing each other in entirety. Macke, Kandinsky, and Marc highly influenced his artworks. Campendonk’s works spectrum included watercolors, woodcuts, gouaches, and glass paintings. In 1913, the group and Campendonk exhibited their works together at ‘Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon,’ at the Der Strum Gallery, Berlin.

In 1916, the artist shifted to Seeshaupt at Starnberger See, and soon after, he started travelling extensively. In 1917, Heinrich Campendonk was appointed as a teacher at the Strum Gallery. In 1926, Heinrich joined as a professor at Kunstakademie, in Dusseldorf. He achieved artistic recognition through his works on the windows of churches and public buildings, in the mid 1920s. Some of Heinrich’s famous works of the period are “Landtag and Paulskirche,” “Duesseldorf parliament building,” and “Essen Munster” to name some. In 1933, at the onset of the reign of Nazi government, the artist was one of the many ‘Modernists,’ prohibited from exhibiting and teaching. Disappointed, he moved to Oostende, Belgium for a short period.

In 1935, the artist immigrated and settled at Amsterdam. There he was appointed as a teacher at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, to be promoted eventually as the Academy Director. Initially he taught decorative art, stained glass, and printmaking. The artist stayed with the academy for the rest of his life. In addition, he kept receiving several commissions for window glass painting in Germany and the Netherlands. In 1956, he was dubbed a knight and was awarded the Quellinus-Preis of the Amsterdam city. Heinrich died on May 09, 1957 in Amsterdam.