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Max Pechstein: A More Authentic Existence

Max Pechstein - The Red House - 1911 - Oil on canvas - 35 × 27 in. (88.9 × 68.5 cm) - The Art Institute of Chicago (click photo for larger image)Painter and printmaker Max Pechstein (1881-1955) was among those artists who were park of Die Brücke (The Bridge) group—the first phase of German Expressionism. Indeed, he was a leading member.

Die Brücke artists regularly worked together, both in their studios as well as out of doors; this communal approach contributed to the early consistency of their style and reflected an important aspect of their utopian program. Echoing larger social concerns about health at the time, Max Pechstein and his colleagues often escaped the constraints of city life to find a more authentic existence in nature, documenting their experiences in their work. Later, after his relocation to Berlin in 1908, he also made solitary trips to Nidden, a remote fishing village on the Baltic Sea. Pechstein painted The Red House (featured here) during the second of these trips, attracted to the expansive dunes and forests of the region, as well as the local people and architecture.

Pechstein was a founding member of several avant-garde groups, including Berlin's "New Secession" (1910) and the Novembergruppe (1918). He was also elected a member of the Prussian Academy of Art. He taught at the Berlin Academy for ten years (1923-33), until he was dismissed by the Nazis because of the so-called degenerate nature of his art. Reinstated in 1945, Pechstein was the recipient of numerous awards before he died in West Berlin at the age of 73. 

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