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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / German Expressionism / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Herman Max Pechstein (German, 1881-1955)

German Expressionism: Survey I / Survey II / Survey III

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" featured over fifty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Ernst Barlach, Rudolf Bauer, Max Beckmann, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger,
Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Alfons Graber, Otto Greiner, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel, Hannah Hoch, Karl Hofer,
Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Edvard Munch,
Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault, Rudolf Schlichter,
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.

German Expressionist Drawings

The Russians: Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Goncharova, Larionov, and Malevich
After apprenticing to a decorative painter from Zwickau, Pechstein he enrolled in the Dresden Academy in 1903. In 1906, he graduated with top honors and a scholarship to study in Italy. On his return, he visited Paris where he befriended Kees Van Dongen. In 1906, he joined Die Brucke. Along with Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Pechstein was intensely interested in printmaking. The artists of the group frequently circulated exhibitions of prints in woodcut, etching, and lithograph; their hope was to strike a prophetic chord and awaken their compatriots to a new, free, passionate age. Joined by Otto Müller and Emil Nolde, the artists of the group exhibited their works in over twenty shows. Their work, all of which was condemned by the Nazis as "Degenerate," is intense, angular, and nervous.

In 1910, he moved permanently to Berlin where he was elected President of the Neue Secession. He exhibited at the Berlin Secession in 1912 and was expelled from Die Brucke for violating their policy of only exhibiting together. In 1914, he traveled to the Palau Islands in the South Seas. Upon his return, he was drafted into military service and sent to the Somme front; he was released in early 1917 after suffering a nervous collapse. After the War he founded the Novembergruppe to support modern art and became a member of the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts, but was dismissed as a degenerate by the Nazis in 1933.

Pechstein produced a large body of prints (390 lithographs, 290 woodcuts and 170 etchings). An exceptional draughtsman, he liked the immediacy of lithography. In his intaglio prints, he often combined drypoint and aquatint. His impatience also led him to experiment with inking a single woodblock with different colors of ink rahter than cutting key blocks for each color. He also experimented with colored papers and different inks. Although Pechstein only printed in very small editions, his often irregular rolling technique resulted in printing differences.

Selected Bibliography: Graphisches Kabinett Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, Max Pechstein, 1881-1955. Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik (Bremen: Graphisches Kabinett Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, 1981); Günter Krüger, Das druckgraphische Werk Max Pechsteins (Hamburg/Tökendorf: Max Pechstein-Archiv/ R.C. Pechstein-Verlag, 1988); Konrad Lemmer, Max Pechstein und der Beginn des Expressionismus. Kunst unserer Zeit. No. 2 (Berlin: Konrad Lemmer, 1949); Neue Pinakothek. Ausstellung Berliner Kunst in München. . . . 15. Marz bis mitte Mai 1935. . . Amtlicher Katalog (München: Verlag Knorr & Hirth G.m.b.H., 1935: catalogue of 323 works by contemporary Berlin artists, including some modernists—Max Beckmann, Emil Nolde, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, Karl Hofer and others. An important last-ditch attempt by the Berliners to maintain their modernist leanings before the Nazi crackdown on "degenerate art"); Max Osborn, Max Pechstein (Berlin: I M Propylaen-Verlag, 1922); Helen Serger, Max Pechstein: Brücke Period, and Works by Heckel, Nolde, Kirchner, Schmidt-Rottluff (NY: Helen Serger/La Boetie, Inc., 1984); Van Diemen-Lilienfeld Galleries, Max Pechstein (New York: Van Diemen-Lilienfeld Galleries, 1959).
Kopf / Head (Fechter 149). Original woodcut, 1920. Edition: c. 1000 impressions (of which this is a very rich one) published in Fritz Gurlitt's Almanach 1920, an annual of German Expressionist art published from 1919 to 1921. A masterpiece of German Expressionist printmaking. Image size: 104x81mm Price: SOLD.
Nude. Original lithograph, c. 1912. Edition unknown. Ours is a pencil-signed impression in good condition except for hinging defects at the top cortners. Printed on smooth wove paper. Overall, a very good, clean impression. Image size: 320x250mm. Price: SOLD.
Seated South Sea Islander (Davis-Rifkind 2228:46). Original lithograph, c. 1913-14. From the deluxe suite of 50 signed impressions for Reisebilder Italien: Sudsee (there are also 750 unsigned impressions). Signed by the artist. In good condition except for some rippling top and bottom not affecting image. This is plate 46 (of 50) from Pechstein's travel suite to Italy and the South Sea Islands before the end of World War I. Published 1919 by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, on thin cream wove paper; in very good condition. Image size: 365x285mm. Price: SOLD.

Although the signed impression has been sold, we also have an unsigned impression of this lithograph from the edition of 750. Price: $950.
Seated South Sea Islanders (Davis-Rifkind 2228:36). Original lithograph, c. 1913-14. 750 unsigned impressions for Reisebilder Italien: Sudsee of which ours is one. (There was also a deluxe suite of 50 signed impressions). This is plate 36 (of 50) from Pechstein's travel suite to Italy and the South Sea Islands before the end of World War I. Published 1919 by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, on thin wove paper; in very good condition. Image size: 184x145mm. Price: $950.
South Sea Islanders: Dorfszene (Davis-Rifkind 2228:38). Original lithograph, c. 1913-14. 750 unsigned impressions for Reisebilder Italien: Sudsee of which ours is one. (There was also a deluxe suite of 50 signed impressions). This is plate 38 (of 50) from Pechstein's travel suite to Italy and the South Sea Islands before the end of World War I. Published 1919 by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, on thin wove paper; in very good condition. Image size: 137x165mm. Price: $950.
South Sea Islanderers Launching Their Boats (Davis-Rifkind 2228:14). Original lithograph, c. 1913-14. 750 unsigned impressions for Reisebilder Italien: Sudsee of which ours is one. (There was also a deluxe suite of 50 signed impressions). This is plate 14 (of 50) from Pechstein's travel suite to Italy and the South Sea Islands before the end of World War I. Published 1919 by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, on thin wove paper; in very good condition. Image size:137x165mm. Price: $950.
Badende / Bathers (Davis-Rifkind 2241). Original woodcut, 1918. Edition: 110 impressions for the deluxe edition of Das Kunstblatt. Mat-stained around the edges of the image. Image size: 205x188mm. Price: $800.
Saugling / Nursing infant (Davis-Rifkind 2242). Original woodcut, 1918. Edition: 110 impressions for the deluxe edition of Das Kunstblatt plus an unknown number for the regular edition, from which ours comes. Image size: 226x107mm. Price: $675.
Fischerhafen (Davis-Rifkind 2155, Fechter 224). Original woodcut, 1920. Published in Georg Biermann, ed. Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst (Liepzig: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1920). Image size: 203x155mm. Price: $950.

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