Erich Heckel was self-taught. In 1905 he was one of the founders of “Die Brücke” and soon one of the most important German Expressionists. His greatest strengths were landscape paintings and prints (woodcuts, lithographs and etchings). He was active over almost six decades. Although in 1934 he signed the call of cultural workers in support of Adolf Hitler, he was banned from exhibiting after 1937. More than 700 of his works were removed as "Degenerated Art" from German museums. In the painting combustion on 20 March 1939 in Berlin, the Nazis destroyed thousands of paintings, watercolors and prints.
In 1955 Heckel took part in the documenta 1 in Kassel. In his last years he gave most of his works to the Brücke Museum in Berlin. On both his 70th and 80th birthdays, major retrospectives were held, as his works were now shown in all the great museums of the world. In 1974 his painting Sleeping Pechstein for the German Post stamp series "German Expressionism" and in 1994 his painting Landscape with Dresden were selected for another series "German paintings of the 20th century". He was married to dancer Frieda Milda Georgi.