Expressionism is a preeminent focus of the Art Museum Graubünden Collection. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner plays a pivotal role therein. He lived in Davos from 1917 until 1938, and in the early years of his stay in the region he cultivated an intensive artistic and amicable dialogue with younger artists. Among this group of people were the founding members of the Basel group of artists Rot-Blau (Red-Blue): Hermann Scherer, Albert Müller, and Paul Camenisch – as well as Philipp Bauknecht from Germany and Jan Wiegers from Holland, who had both come to Graubünden due to health issues. They stayed in Davos for a longer period after discovering Kirchner’s art in June 1923 at the Kunsthalle Basel.
Expressionist artists rejected academic conventions and preferred painting outdoors. Above all they ad-hered to the principle of visually articulating their immediate experience of light, colour, and emotions. They considered subjective feeling, individually distinct brushwork, pure colours, and reduction in form as the basic elements of expressing emotion. The nude in nature and unrestrained motion were among their favourite motifs for articulating their emotional experience of their environment. Expressionist artists considered what was then called primitive art an important source of inspiration, which included tribal art from Africa, the South Pacific, and Indonesia.