Max Pechstein exotic painting and anti-war graphics

Reclining Girl (Liegendes Mädchen). 1910.
Reclining Girl (Liegendes Mädchen). 1910.

Max Pechstein (December 31, 1881 – June 29, 1955) is a famous German expressionist artist of the 19th-20th centuries. Pechstein’s paintings are characterized by increased decorativeness and bright contrast. In graphic creativity, he showed himself in the techniques of etching and woodcuts. In the 1920s, he created posters depicting the activities of the labor movement.

Max Pechstein (1881 1955) in his workshop. Berlin, 1915.
Max Pechstein (1881 1955) in his workshop. Berlin, 1915.

Biography of Max Pechstein

Max Pechstein was born in eastern Germany. From 1896 he studied painting, working as an apprentice to a local decorative artist. In 1907, after meeting Erich Heckel, Pechstein joined the Bridge group, traveled to Italy and France for a year, and then settled in Berlin. This period was marked by the search for a natural way of life away from the destructive forces of civilization.

In 1908, he joined the Berlin Secession group and became acquainted with the work of Henri Matisse, which had a huge influence on the master. However, Max Pechstein’s free style of writing was devoid of symbolic overtones.

Pechstein Max. Abend.
Pechstein Max. Abend.

In 1910, Pechstein was one of the founders of the New Secession. Upon returning to the old Secession in 1912, he was expelled from the Most group. At this time, the painter was interested in the problems of depicting architectural compositions in mountainous areas, and was looking for new forms of division of the plane.

Fascinated by color contrasts and primitive exoticism, in 1914 the artist left for Oceania, to the Palau Islands.

Pechstein Max. And forgive us our debts.
Pechstein Max. And forgive us our debts.

The First World War interrupted his quiet life, and Max Pechstein was captured by the Japanese. Risking his life, the painter escaped in 1915 and returned to Germany. From 1916 to 1917 he fought on the Western Front, taking part in the operation on the Somme River. During the November Revolution (1918) he was an activist in the Workers’ Council for the Arts and created anti-war posters.

Pechstein Max. Autumn Evening (1927).
Pechstein Max. Autumn Evening (1927).

The war experience contributed to Pechstein’s social insight.

He illustrated printed publications, created stained glass windows, mosaics, and masterfully made woodcuts. Since 1923 he was a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts. With the coming to power of the National Socialists, Pechstein was persecuted. Nazi ideology forbade the artist to create, he lost the right to teach and by the end of the war he was called up for forced labor. The artist died in West Berlin on June 29, 1955.

The pictorial language of Max Pechstein is a kind of channel for the release of a person’s innermost experiences.

Pechstein Max. Ballet Dancers (1912).
Pechstein Max. Ballet Dancers (1912).
Baltic Sea coast (1933).
Baltic Sea coast (1933).
Bauernhuser mit Getreidefeld in Leba.
Bauernhuser mit Getreidefeld in Leba.
Das rote Beamtenhaus in Nidden.
Das rote Beamtenhaus in Nidden.
The Dance (Dancers and Bathers at the Forest Pond) (1912).
The Dance (Dancers and Bathers at the Forest Pond) (1912).
Fisherman in a boat (1909).
Fisherman in a boat (1909).
Horse Fair (1910).
Horse Fair (1910).
Sun.
Sun.
Springtime (c 1919).
Springtime (c 1919).
Sunset over the Blue Bridge.
Sunset over the Blue Bridge.
Ruined House (1906).
Ruined House (1906).
Circus with dromedaries.
Circus with dromedaries.
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