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After his studies under the Dutch artist Johan Thorn Prikker at the Krefeld 'Kunstgewerbeschule', Heinrich Campendonk followed Franz Marc's invitation to the Bavarian village of Sindelsdorf and moved there in 1911. At that time, Campendonk had already found the basic subject of his works: the depiction of harmony between man and beast, Creation, the infinite circle of life and death. He produced paintings, watercolours, gouaches and his first woodcuts.
In Sindelsdorf, the artist met other members of the 'Blauer Reiter' group and participated in one of the group's exhibitions that very same year. Two years later, Campendonk also showed his work together with the 'Blaue Reiter' at the 'Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon' at Herwarth Walden's gallery 'Der Sturm' in Berlin. During these years Campendonk's artwork was influenced by Marc, Macke and Kandinsky. A stiff geometrical language was combined with colour in pure complementary contrasts to a dynamic, rhythmic language.
In 1916, the painter moved to Seeshaupt at the Starnberger See, from where he went on extensive travels. At that point Campendonk's painting was marked by softly flowing forms, large calm areas of intensive light and lyrical, often fairytale-like mood. He also produced works in glass painting.
In 1926, Campendonk was appointed professor at the Düsseldorf art academy. He gained acclaim as an artist from the mid-1920s particularly through numerous glass windows he made for churches and public buildings (such as the Düsseldorf parliament building and the Paulskirche and the Essen Münster etc.).
When the Nazi regime came to power in 1933, he was among the many modernists condemned as degenerate artists, and prohibited from exhibiting. He then moved to The Netherlands, where he spent the rest of his life working at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, first teaching Decorative Art, printmaking and stained-glass then as the Academy Director.
He continued to work as a teacher and received numerous orders for glass windows in Germany and The Netherlands. In 1956, he was awarded the Quellinus Prize by the city of Amsterdam and made Knight of the Order 'De Nederlandse Leeuw'. Campendonk died in Amsterdam in 1957.