German painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Erich Heckel was a revolutionary artist. He, along with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, formed the modern ‘Expressionist’ group “Die Brucke” in 1905. One of his most memorable works of that time is the striking “Weisses Haus in Dangast,” which means White House in Dangast. In the summers of 1907-1908, Erich Heckel had joined Schmidt-Rotluff on trips to the North Sea coast of Dangast. The virginal natural beauty of Dangast had inspired Heckel to paint numerous landscapes. It was there that he painted “Weisses Haus in Dangast” in 1908. The colors used in the painting are fiery reds, bright oranges, pristine white, and the various shades of blue and green. Despite the riotous burst of color, the painting has a certain harmonious quality.
The scene in this oil on canvass painting depicts a windy curvy road on the shoreline of Dangast with mud houses and foliage on either side. A huge multi-storied white house with green and orange windows sits on the right side of the painting with a few trees towering over it. The white house was actually the town post house of Varel. The sheer white of the post house glimmers in contrast with the vibrant colors of the painting. In the front right section of the painting, there is a small house colored in bright orange. Another mud house stands opposite to it across the road. It is slanted and is colored with a mix of orange, red, and green. A dazzling street runs right across the middle of the painting. There is some scattered short grass and shrubbery on the slope near the road. The houses and the streets are outlined in black and blue. The dark aqua blue sky has the traces of white and light blue, which possibly depicts the clouds. The vivid illustrative intermingling layers of color in the image form a silhouette of shapes. Heckel’s untamed use of color with swift rough brushstrokes in “Weisses Haus in Dangast” makes it a brilliant example of his ‘Expressionist’ style of painting. Many art lovers mistook this painting as a ‘Fauvist’ work, due to Erich’s unrestrained use of color.
Erich Heckel’s uncontemporary style was way ahead of his time. He contributed hugely in the evolution of ‘Modern’ artists. Although, today his exhibitions do phenomenally well, his works were not very well received at the time. “Weisses Haus in Dangast” is presently displayed at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain.