Max Pechstein

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Max Pechstein, 1910: 'Bathers', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia, U.S.
Max Pechstein, c. 1911: 'Fraukopf', watercolor on paper; current location: M.T. Abraham Foundation Paris/Geneva
Max Pechstein, c. 1920: 'Soldaten beim Schanzen / Soldiers Digging a Trench' (nr VII in the series 'Battle at the Somme'), print on paper; location: Imperial War Museum, Manchester
Max Pechstein, 1920: 'Two standing figures', wood-cut; current location: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum N. Y. C.

Max Hermann Pechstein (1881-12-31 – 1955-06-29) was a German Expressionist painter and graphic artist, born in Zwickau; as young artist he became a member of the artist-group Die Brücke.

Quotes of Max Pechstein[edit]

  • I was commissioned [in 1906] to do a ceiling-painting and an altar painting for the Saxon pavilion at the third German Arts and Crafts exhibition.. .I varied my tulips. But when I went in before the opening I was horrified to see that the fiery red had been toned down with streaks of grey.. .I gave furious vent to my feelings. Suddenly there was someone at my side, seconding my vituperation. It was Erich Heckel.. ..joyfully we discovered our total accord in the drive towards liberation, an art which charged forwards, unimpeded by conventions. And that was how I joined Die Brücke.
    • as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 32-33
  • We [the artists of Die Brücke ] were overjoyed to discover our complete unison in the urge for liberation, for an art surging forward, unrestricted by convention.
    • from a note of Pechstein; as quoted in Expressionism, a German Intuition, 1905-1920, [exhibition-catalogue 1980-81]; Paul Vogt, Horts Keller, Martin Urban, Wolf-Dieter Dube, and Eberhard Roters; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1980, p. 5
  • Now I drew as wildly during my tramps [during his walks through the Saxonian countryside] as I has fought before. [in his early youth]
    • As quoted in German Expressionist Painting, Peter Selz, University of California Press, 1974, p. 90
  • We desire to achieve to the socialist republic not only the recovery of the conditions of art, but also the beginning of a unified artistic area for our time.
    • As quoted in German Expressionist Painting, Peter Selz, University of California Press, 1974, p. 313
    • Pechstein and others initiated in Nov. 1918 in Berlin the Novembergruppe, a socialist artist-group, competing then with Die Brücke
  • A new day. Calm as seldom the beginning of such a one. Did I dream? No! Dream and contented pure was the night..
  • It is the sure certainty of having found unity with nature, this calm causes one of the strongest experiences.
  • Man, air, trees, world are laid bare and are one!
  • Contented sleep releases the limbs. We await full moon. Await the dance!
    • Max Pechstein, 1918, in Aus dem Palau-Tagebuch, 'Das Kunstblatt' 2, no. 6, p. 179; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 43
  • In 1907 I was most strongly influenced by Giotto during my first Italian trip, as well as by Etruscan sculpture and the early Etruscan landscape painting in the Vatican library in Rome.
    • In his letter in 1920, to de:Georg Biermann; as quoted in Georg Biermann - Max Pechstein, Leipzig 1920, p. 14
    • Pechstein answers to Biermann's question: which 'primitives' had influenced him in his early painting style
  • What a variety of shapes exists in the lithograph when one prepares the stone for printing, etches it, and prints oneself. Above all, one must do the printing oneself!
    • quote, c. 1920; as quoted in Buchheim, Künstlergemeinschaft Brücke, p. 303; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, pp. 40-41
  • It was and still is fundamental: to begin the work with the same tools with which it will be ended, without making a preliminary drawing. on the wood, stone, or metal. Sketches and drawings done in advance clarify the intention, and with it ready in the head, the requisite tool realizes the idea.
    • Buchheim, Künstlergemeinschaft Brücke, p. 304; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 54
  • When we met in Berlin [1910], I arranged with Heckel and Kirchner that the three of us would go and work together on the lakes of Moritzburg near Dresden. We had long been familiar with the region, and we knew that we would have the opportunity tp paint nudes in the open air without interference.. .We had to find two or three people who were not professional models and would therefore pose for us without falling into studio routines.. ..we artists set out early every morning, laden with our equipment, followed by the models with bags full of good things toe at and drink. We lived in complete harmony, we worked and went swimming.. ..each of us [three] executed a great number of paintings and drawings.
    • Pechstein is recalling the Summer of 1910; as quoted in Expressionism, Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 30
  • ..the unrelenting Berlin forced each one of us to struggle through on the most individual paths, so that our communal living [of 'Brücke', in 1913] fell apart. In addition, the knowledge of the individual members had developed so far that the individual form differed, although the overall goal of the group remained the same.
    • a later quote of Pechstein; as quoted in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus, ed. Anita Beloubek-Hammer; Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 2005, p. 266 (transl. Claire Albiez)
    • about the cause of the break-up of Die Brücke group in 1913: the harsh city-life of Berlin. Pechstein himself already was removed from the Brücke group in 1912 (one year before the definite break) because he went against the self-imposed rule of die Brücke to only exhibit together - when he decided to show also his art at the 'Berliner Secession'.
  • I would like to express my longing for happy experiences. I do not want us to be for ever regretting. Art has been and remains the part of my life that brings me happiness.

Quotes about Max Pechstein[edit]

  • [Prints] not only show the change and transformation of [Pechstein's] artistic goals but are also both the mirror and chronicle of his external life. They report on his journeys and trips, on life in the cities and in nature; they exhibit life s surroundings.
    • de:Paul Fechter, 1920, in Das graphische Werk Max Pechsteins; Berlin: Fritz Gurlitt Verlag, 1920, pp. 193; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 42
    • In his essay on Pechstein's prints, Paul Fechter described the autobiographical role printmaking played for an artist
  • [Pechstein was often dissatisfied with his prints, because] ..instinctively he already feels transposition into line, into black and white, somehow as abstraction and as an intermediate position.. .Fundamentally, so to speak, he perceives the symbolic colorfulness in the black and white of the plane as a preliminary phase; like a text for which the music is still missing.
    • de:Paul Fechter, 1920, in Das graphische Werk Max Pechsteins; Berlin: Fritz Gurlitt Verlag, 1920, pp. 193; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 54
  • Soon [after visiting Italy and studying the early 'primitive' Renaissance painters] Pechstein, like Gauguin before him, felt the urgency to go further in the search for the primitive beginnings of men, art and life. He expected to find an equivalent to his own vital energy and sensual impulses among native tribes. After long plans he sailed early in 1914 from Genoa.. ..to the island of w:Palau, at that time a German colony east of the Philippines.
    • Peter Selz, in German Expressionist Painting, Peter Selz, University of California Press, 1974, p. 291
  • In viewing Pechstein's 1910 [painting] 'Das Grüne Sofa' (The Green Sofa), one instantly recognizes that it is the same scene as Kirchner's Artistin-Marcella of the same year. Marcella is wearing the same outfit, sits on the same side of the sofa, and even rests her leg up on the couch and her chin in her hand. The cat is also included, albeit turning his head the other way. These similarities strongly suggest that these two paintings were created at the same time, which means that the young girl would have been posing for not one, but two artists. That she appears so calm and undisturbed by this attention in both works is a testament to the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the creation of art for Die Brücke.
    • Claire Louise Albiez, in Brücke und Berlin: 100 Jahre Expressionismus; submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida, May 2013, p. 38

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