Painting by Max Pechstein
Painting by Max Pechstein
Painting by Max Pechstein
Painting by Max Pechstein


Self Portrait with Death
Max Pechstein
Oil on Canvas 1920

Pechstein had enlisted in the army in 1916 and fought in the trenches during WWI. The butchery he witnessed led to this grotesque work, as well as to a portfolio of lithographs on the horrors of war.

In 1918 Pechstein joined Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Otto Nagel, and others in the Novembergruppe (November Group), the name proclaiming solidarity with the revolution that forced Kaiser Wilhelm II to abdicate. Pechstein wrote:

"Art will no longer be considered, as it has been in the past, an interesting and genteel occupation for the sons of wealthy loafers. On the contrary, the sons of common people must be given the opportunity, through the crafts, to become artists. Art is no game, but a duty to the people! It is a matter of public concern."

Pechstein eventually turned towards Christianity as a solution to Germany's misery. He produced a remarkable series of woodcuts that illustrated the sufferings of Christ, and a beautiful portfolio of 12 handcolored woodcuts he called Das Vater Unser (The Lord's Prayer). Loathed by the Nazis, 326 of Pechstein's works were removed from museums by Hitler's regime in 1937. In that same year the artist had the honor of being placed in the Nazi Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition, meant to mock and demean modern art. The artist died in his West Berlin home in 1955.

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