#OTD, December 31st, 1881 the painter Max Pechstein was born in Zwickau, one of eight children of a textile worker.
He trained initially as a decorator and then from 1902 to 1906 at the Kunstakademie in Dresden. He joined Die Brücke, a hugely influential association of expressionist artist. His works, together with those of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff were ground breaking in the development of German expressionism.
When Die Brücke broke up around 1913, Pechstein went to Rome and afterwards to Paris. By 1914 he was inspired by Gauguin and travelled with his wife to Palau, a pacific island and then a German colony. Surprised by the outbreak of war he was captured by the Japanese who released him upon an oath of neutrality. He returned via the US working as a coal trimmer on the steamer bringing him home.
He served in WWI on the Somme an experience that compelled him to join radical socialist movements after the war. Despite his radical views he became a professor at the Prussian Academy of Arts and a successful artist until 1933.
As a politically committed artist, Pechstein soon became a victim of the repressive measures of the Nazis: In 1933 he was forbidden to paint or exhibit, removed from his teaching post, and in 1934 he was expelled from the Preußische Akademie der Künste. 326 of his works were confiscated.
The exhibition “Entartete Kunst” (“Degenerate Art”) showed several of Pechstein’s works.
After the war he was reinstated. He died in 1955.
Image: Max Pechstein: Selfportrait, 1918
For more on Pechstein see for instance: