From 1900, the North Dutch seaside resort of Bergen aan See was a highly popular destination for artists. Post-World War One, an artists’ colony was founded in the resort, and was referred to alternately as the Bergen School, Bergense, the Bergensche School, as well as Nieuwe Kring Bergen. The School played an important role in the development of Dutch Expressionism.
The artists in the colony were very heterogeneous. The head of the group was the painter Leo Gestel (1881-1941), who relocated to Bergen in 1910, and laid the foundations for the School. Henri Le Fauconnier (1881-1946) was the group’s second most influential member.
Despite its name, the Bergen School was a loose collective of artists who rejected the Haager School style and embraced Post-Impressionism, particularly the work of Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh. In addition to taking formal inspiration from France, the group was also influenced by Socialist ideas, and developed a politically engaged form of Expressionism, and utopian ideas.
The Bergen School’s exhibition journal was the "Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring", which was funded by the school’s main patron, Piet Boendemaker, who also organised large annual exhibitions in the Stedelijk Museum. The School was disbanded in 1922. The key members of the Bergen School were Else van den Berg, Gerrit Willem van Blaaderen, Arnout Colnot, Dirk Filarski, Leo Gestel, Henri Le Fauconnier, Wim Schumacher, Samuel Schwarz, Matthieu Wiegman and Piet Wiegman.