Max Pechstein

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Max Pechstein, 1920, portrait photo by Minya Diez-Dührkoop

Hermann Max Pechstein (born December 31, 1881 in Zwickau , † June 29, 1955 in West Berlin ) was an important German painter , graphic artist and at times a member of the artists' association " Brücke ". Pechstein was a representative of German Expressionism . He mainly created figure pictures, some with exotic motifs from the Palau Islands , still lifes and landscapes (including from Lake Leba in Western Pomerania) and from the Curonian Spit , where he significantly influenced the artists 'colony of Nida during his several months' stay between 1909 and 1939.


Max Pechstein: Woman's Head (1911)
Max Pechstein with his son Frank, 1913, portrait photo by Minya Diez-Dührkoop
Max Pechstein in his house in Berlin-Zehlendorf, 1915, photo by Waldemar Titzenthaler
The bridge's annual folder from 1912, designed by Otto Mueller , was never published due to Pechstein's exclusion from the bridge.

Pechstein studied after an apprenticeship as a decorative painter in Zwickau (1896-1900) at the state trade school and 1903-06 as a master student of Otto Gussmann at the art academy in Dresden . Even then he designed glass and wall paintings as well as mosaics for various architects. After meeting Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel , he joined the artists' association “ Brücke ” in 1906 as the only academically trained painter and, after receiving the Saxon State Prize in 1907, traveled to Italy (namely to Monterosso , one of the “ Five Villages ” in Liguria ) and 1907/08 to Paris .

From 1908 Pechstein was based in Berlin . In the winter of 1908/09 he met Lotte (baptized Charlotte) Kaprolat (1893–1955) as a model for the sculptor Georg Kolbe (1877–1947) in his Berlin studio. From 1909 to 1920 it was Pechstein's most popular model. It is easy to recognize in his works, among other things, by the fact that Pechstein portrayed her as a somewhat plump figure with bulging lips and pronounced bags under the eyes.

Lotte remained unrecognized not only in many drawings from the years 1909–1910, but even in the “double portrait” on which Pechstein presented Lotte as his wife who belonged to him. Portraying himself and Lotte in bourgeois clothing, Pechstein demonstrated - understandably today and then - just through the hats of the same type, his deep connection with Lotte. Pechstein's gaze and the bright coloring of the picture also convey a cheerful balance and the emotional harmony of a couple in love to the viewer. Lotte and Pechstein sealed this togetherness shown in the picture in the spring of 1911 by entering into a marriage, which resulted in their son Frank in 1913.

In 1908 Pechstein became a member of the “ Berlin Secession ” and in 1910 was co-founder and president of the “ New Secession ”. Re-election failed at the end of 1911. The “Brücke” artists involved left the “Neue Secession” and decided to only take part in exhibitions as a group. Because of his participation in an exhibition at the “Berlin Secession”, Pechstein was therefore excluded from the “Brücke” in 1912.

In 1909 Pechstein first came to the Curonian Spit in the fishing village of Nidden for the summer to paint there. He became part of the Nidden artist colony and met with other artists, including Ernst Bischoff-Culm and Ernst Mollenhauer at the Blode Inn. There he mainly painted the life of the simple people of the Spit. He was in contact with them beyond painting, so he went fishing with them on the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea .

Pechstein's trip to the South Sea (1913/14), which was in part only processed with the Palau pictures from 1917, as well as his participation in the First World War were reflected in travel pictures and lithographs as well as in etchings (including the " Somme Battle ", 1916/17 ). He was one of the founders of the “ Novembergruppe ” and the Art Council .

In 1923 Pechstein separated from Lotte and married Marta Möller for the second time. In the same year the Prussian Academy of the Arts made him a member; at the same time he was given a professorship.

time of the nationalsocialism

In 1933 Pechstein was relieved of his teaching post. After the seizure of power, local activists also showed works by Pechstein in exhibitions of “degenerate” art in museums. There is no record of Pechstein's reaction to these presentations, but he did follow the development of the cultural climate in the emerging National Socialist regime. When the Prussian Academy of the Arts had excluded Heinrich Mann and Käthe Kollwitz , Pechstein, like no other member, spoke in defense of the general assembly that followed. While other members left, he decided to stay. This was due to Pechstein's generally wait-and-see attitude. His activities in the Berlin Secession , of which he had been a board member since February 1933 , turned out to be even more complicated . Pechstein wanted to keep the Secession as an exhibition forum. While members left the association due to the adjusted course, Pechstein read an official communique of the board at a meeting on April 25, 1933, in which the board expressed its willingness to cooperate in the establishment of the new Germany. There was a secret ballot and Pechstein's vote is not known. However, it must be assumed that he supported the course, as he considered compromises necessary to maintain the institution, because the Berlin Secession was in debt and was dependent on state aid. Overall, Pechstein tried to maintain a low profile while the National Socialist rule established itself permanently. As early as March 1933, the accusation was raised that Pechstein was a Jew. Emil Nolde made this accusation against an official. He tried to refute this with a documentation of his Aryan descent. While authorities accepted this evidence, Nolde refused to apologize for his false allegation to Pechstein. At the end of 1933, Pechstein had little reason to be optimistic about developments in art politics and felt increasingly lonely because of the numerous emigrants in his environment. His first-born son Frank was a candidate for membership in the SA in autumn 1933 , which Pechstein did not comment critically in his correspondence. But he forbade his second son Mäki to join the Hitler Youth .

Although Pechstein's works, as well as other artists defamed as producers of “degenerate art”, remained on display after the Nazis came to power - Rosenberg, for example, complained in 1934 that many Expressionist works were still being presented to the public - but the loss of status increasingly troubled him . The family had to fall back on the savings due to the poor economic situation. Although he was able to sell some watercolors in an exhibition in Chemnitz, the income fell considerably. In this situation, Pechstein decided to join the National Socialist People's Welfare and the National Socialist Air Corps .

In 1937 he was expelled from the academy. In July of the same year, 16 of his pictures were defamed in the Nazi exhibition Degenerate Art and 326 of his works were confiscated. In 1944 a large part of his works burned due to the effects of the war.

post war period

In 1921 Pechstein discovered the area around the Lebasee in Pomerania with the Lontzkedüne , then in 1922/23 the western Garder See . He made this nature and the people working in it objects of his pictures. In Pomerania he experienced the occupation by the Red Army in 1945 and had to work for the occupying power at times, but was still able to leave for Berlin in 1945.

Max Pechstein's grave in the Schmargendorf cemetery in Berlin

In 1945 Pechstein was appointed professor at the Berlin University of the Arts . His grave is in the Schmargendorf cemetery . It has been dedicated to the city of Berlin as an honorary grave since 1980 .


Works (selection)

  • 1908: Young girl, National Museums in Berlin, National Gallery
  • 1909: girl in red under a parasol
  • 1909: At the Curonian Lagoon, private collection
  • 1910: At the lakeside, Hamburger Kunsthalle
  • 1910: Fruits II. / Woman with Indian on carpet (double painting, auctioned at a record price at the end of 2011)
  • 1910: The green sofa, Museum Ludwig Cologne
  • 1910: Red fisherman's house and blossoming tree
  • 1910: Girl with a red fan, Neue Galerie New York
  • 1911: On the beach of Nidden, National Museums in Berlin , National Gallery
  • 1911: Early morning, private collection, Southern Germany
  • 1911: Lying back nude
  • 1911: sunrise (near Nidden)
  • 1911: Women at the edge of the forest, oil on canvas, Gelsenkirchen Art Museum
  • 1912: Fishing boats in Nidden, Lower Saxony State Museum for Art and Cultural History Oldenburg (Oldenburg)
  • 1913: Fishing boat, Brücke Museum , Berlin
  • 1913: burial of the victims of the Revolution II
  • 1914: Portrait of Luise Maas, The Family of Louise and Erich Mendelsohn
  • 1917: Palau triptych, left side piece, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen
  • 1918: Self-portrait with hat and pipe, Kunsthaus Zürich
  • 1919: threatening weather, Municipal Museum Abteiberg , Mönchengladbach
  • 1919: The Italy and South Seas voyage. 50 original lithographs, Maecenas Collection Vienna
  • 1920: Mother with child (wife of the artist with son), Städtisches Museum Abteiberg , Mönchengladbach
  • 1921: Kornhocken in front of the red house and windmill, Museum of Bread Culture , Ulm
  • 1924: Monterosso al Mare, oil on canvas, private property
  • 1925: Model break, Lucerne Art Museum
  • 1927: Lupow estuary
  • 1927: Behind the dunes, oil on canvas, 51 × 59.5 cm
  • 1929: morning sun (over Lake Garder )
  • 1932: Herring fishermen on the beach, oil on canvas, 95 × 120 cm, Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie , Regensburg
  • 1933: Cutter for repair (in Leba )
  • 1937: Fisherman's Bay
  • 1939: Morning near Purwin (Curonian Spit), oil on canvas, 70 × 80.5 cm


Max Pechstein Museum in Zwickau

Pechstein became an honorary citizen of the city of Zwickau in 1947 . Zwickau awards the Max Pechstein Prize every two years . There are Max-Pechstein-Strasse named after him in several German cities . The asteroid (43724) Pechstein and the Zwickau art collections of the Municipal Museum in Lessingstrasse were named after him as the Max Pechstein Museum .


As a member of the German Association of Artists , Pechstein u. a. at the following large annual DKB exhibitions:

1912 to 1936

After 1945


In October 2011, an art forgery trial ended with a conviction of the accused. In addition to other works by well-known artists such as Max Ernst and Heinrich Campendonk , two paintings that were considered works by Max Pechstein were found to be forgeries at auctions of the alleged Werner Jäger collection .


  • Jörn Barfod: Nidden. Artists' colony on the Curonian Spit. edition fischerhuder art book, Fischerhude 2008, ISBN 978-3-88132-254-6 .
  • Eva Chrambach:  Pechstein, Hermann Max. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , pp. 154-156 ( digitized version ).
  • Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism , De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-029662-4 .
  • Horst Jähner : artist group Brücke. History of a community and the life's work of its representatives. 5th, improved and supplemented edition. Henschel, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-89487-254-3 .
  • Wolfgang Maier-Preusker : Hermann Max Pechstein. 1881-1955. Lithographic memories from 1919 of the Italy and South Seas voyage from the holdings of the Maecenas collection. Self-published, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-900208-17-4 (catalog accompanying the exhibition in the Hanseatic city of Wismar).
  • Magdalena M. Moeller (Ed.): Max Pechstein. His pictorial work. Hirmer, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-7774-7070-8 .
  • Magdalena M. Moeller (ed.): The great expressionists. DuMont, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-7701-5348-0 .
  • Max Pechstein: Memories. Edited by L. Reidemeister. Limes, Wiesbaden 1960.
  • Gerd Presler : Max Pechstein (1891–1955). In: Gerd Presler: Die Brücke , Rowohlt, Reinbek 2007, pp. 77–86, ISBN 978-3-499-50642-0 .
  • Christian Saehrendt : “The bridge” between statecraft and ostracism. Expressionist art as a political issue in the Weimar Republic, the “Third Reich” and the Cold War. Steiner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-515-08614-5 ( Pallas Athene . Vol. 13).
  • Aya Soika: Max Pechstein. The catalog raisonné of the oil paintings: The catalog raisonné of the oil paintings, vol. 1: from 1905 to 1918, vol. 2: from 1919 to 1954 . Hirmer Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-7774-3091-1

Web links

Commons : Max Pechstein  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Bernd Fäthke: The misappropriated woman. Lotte Pechstein, b. Kaprolat . WELTKUNST, 4/2005, p. 70
  2. Barfod, Jörn 1956-: Nida artists' colony on the Curonian Spit . Verl. Atelier im Bauernhaus, Fischerhude 2005, ISBN 3-88132-254-X .
  3. ^ Leonie von Rüxleben: Life data 1881–1955 . In: Max Pechstein: His painterly work , Brücke-Museum, Berlin 1996, p. 22.
  4. ^ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, p. 296.
  5. ^ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, p. 297.
  6. Jump up ↑ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, p. 298.
  7. Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, pp. 301 and 302.
  8. ^ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, pp. 310 and 311.
  9. ^ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, p. 312.
  10. ^ Bernhard Fulda, Aya Soika: Max Pechstein: The Rise and Fall of Expressionism, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, p. 313.
  11. At Grave Max Pechstein in Berlin-Schmargendorf
  12. Harald Ruppert: One who had to bite through. In: Südkurier of December 4, 2015.
  13. Record for Pechstein  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice., December 12, 2011@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  14. ^ Print easily accessible in Berghof (Red.): Art in the persecution: Degenerate art (exhibition) 1937 in Munich. Examples. Neckar, Villingen 1998, without ISBN, large format
  15. Works by Max Pechstein ,, accessed on September 8, 2011
  16. ^ City of Zwickau, press releases: Finally! Zwickau opens the Max Pechstein Museum and the well-traveled family celebrates. In: April 11, 2014, accessed September 28, 2018 .
  17. Full members of the Deutscher Künstlerbund since it was founded in 1903 / Pechstein, Max ( Memento of the original from February 24, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed December 4, 2015) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. all information from 1936 banned images. 34th annual exhibition in Bonn , exhibition catalog, Berlin 1986. (p. 68/69)
  19. Bernd Berke: Max Pechstein: Lost Paradise. In: July 7, 2011, accessed November 30, 2015 .
  20. Tobias Timm: Painted with the wrong blue ,, accessed on December 21, 2011