Max Pechstein (1881-1955)

Pechstein was born in Zwickau. After an apprenticeship as a decorator he enrolled at the arts and crafts school in Dresden in 1900. Between 1903 and 1906 he studied at the academy with Professor Otto Gußmann. In 1906 he met Erich Heckel, who introduced him to the memebers of the "Brücke". Enthusiasticly he joined the artistic work and discussions of the "Brücke" members. He spent the summer of 1907 with Kirchner drawing and painting nature in Goppeln. The following autum he went to Italy on a scholarship from the Academy which he cut short after three months. He instead went to Paris for nine months, where he studied the French contemporary art scene and artistic work of the avant garde intensively. After his return he moved to Berlin and spent the summers with Kirchner and Heckel at the Moritzburger Lakes near Dresden. He also discovered for himself the fishing village of Nidden in Eastern Prussia. There he carried on making drawings and enjoyed the quietness of an uncorrupted life in harmony with nature and away from civilisation. He was very active during his time in Berlin: along with others who had been rejected from Secession he founded the New Secession and tried to establish the MUIM-Institut (institut for modern studies in painting) with Kirchner in 1911. He was successful both in selling his paintings and as an interior-decorator of upper-class houses. As early as 1912, a year before the break-up of "Brücke", he left the group because he felt limited in doing his own exhibitions.

In 1914 Pechstein traveled to the Palau-Islands in the South Pacific. He experienced life in a world which he romantically idealized as an "earthly Paradise" without the restraints of European conventions. His visit ended with the outbreak of World War I and he returned to Germany under adventurous circumstances. For Pechstein, the time between the Wars was characterized by social and economic success. He became a member of the Academy of Arts and engaged himself politically in the "Novembergruppe" and in the "Arbeitsrat für Künstler". From 1933 on Pechstein was defamed by the Nazis for his artistic work. Three hundred twenty six of his pictures in German museums were confiscated. In the exhibition "Entartete Kunst" ("Degenerate Art") of 1937 six of his paintings, four of his watercolours and six of his graphic works were shown. He spent this time in seclusion in rural Pomerania. Only after the war was he rehabilitated, wining numerous titels and awards for his work.





Max Pechstein
Liegender weiblicher Akt, 1909