Max Pechstein was a German expressionist painter and printmaker, born in Zwickau, Saxony in 1881. He initially studied to be an architect, but after studying for four semesters at the Technische Hochschule of Dresden, he instead chose to pursue his passion for painting. He was encouraged by his mentor, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, to move away from the prevailing academic style of painting and immerse himself in the practice of modernism.
Pechstein’s artwork focused on depicting elements of nature and everyday life while utilizing the design and colour theories that were developed by the Die Brucke group and incorporating them into his own style. His paintings often cited themes of isolation, which he associated with his own life experiences. He depicted scenes drawn from his travels to Africa, North America, South Sea Islands and China as well as many other locations throughout Europe.
Pechstein was a co-founder of the postwar art school ‘Hochschule fur bildende Kunste’ in Berlin-Charlottenburg which focused on developing modern German art. He also served as its first president from 1919–1920. In 1921 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig for his contributions to modern German art.
Throughout his career Pechstein achieved many successes including a Gold Medal at the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929; becoming a member of both The Prussian Academy of Arts in 1938 and The Academy of Arts in West Germany in 1950; being appointed professor at The Hochschule für bildende Künste in 1955; receiving several awards for lifetime achievement including one from Germany’s Federal President for achievements within visual arts; exhibiting numerous solo exhibitions throughout Europe; participating regularly in international group exhibitions; having works represented at many major museums worldwide such as MoMA New York; and posthumously receiving several honours such as a memorial plaque unveiled at Berlin’s Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museum zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz (National Gallery) dedicated to him. Pechstein died in 1955 at age 74 in West Berlin.