Heckel was born in 1883 in Dobeln, Saxony. He was influenced by Van Gogh and Edvard Munch and about 1907 began using bright colors and a violent style. He specialized in landscapes and nudes tinged by a certain melancholy. In 1910 his line began to be less rapid and more angular, while his color darkened.
In 1911 he went to live in Berlin where he painted grave, anxious, sometimes anguished figures that seem to belong to the world of Dostojevski. Heckel's meeting in 1912 with Lyonel Feininger, Franz Marc and August Macke led him to a greater concern with form and light.
After World War I, he moved toward a calmer style. His most engaging works are his engravings and the pain
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