Pechstein Retrospective in my Neighbourhood

Well, I am probably off to a rather lame start for this series. I visited my little neighbourhood art museum a few bus stops away. Before you start realizing it isn’t the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and begin to yawn, I’d like to add I went there for a special exhibit. I had meant to see the exhibit for three months since it’ll be leaving town in two weeks, I was about to miss it.

I only knew Max Pechstein, whom the exhibit was about, was a member of the “Brücke” group, a small, well-known circle of German expressionist painters. During the Third Reich their art classified as “entartete Kunst”, “degenerate art“, the connotation to the German expression suggests something bad had happened to their art. Before the exhibit I only knew that many of those works were burned, I didn’t know the artwork was actually sorted carefully, some was sold abroad and the things, they felt they couldn’t cash in, were burned. How abominable! Of course, it also means some of the pieces still exist scattered all over the world.

I walked into the museum on a sunny weekday at lunchtime, so it was very quiet. My first stop was a large, somewhat strangely illuminated hall with oil paintings. My first thought was “odd”. They didn’t resemble anything I had seen before and I didn’t like them too much, but they were interesting. I ambled around a bit more and found myself in a dim room with little sketches. Those were just awesome. I was amazed anyone could bring a scene to life with nothing but a few lines. Pechstein obviously liked to sketch and paint naked women – and he was impressively good at it.

My favourite exhibit was probably the smallest of all, about half the size of a postcard. Pechstein drew his wife breastfeeding his newborn son with what seemed like two or three lines. It looks very simple and full of kindness. He wrote a note underneath saying his sun was cute and they were well. Maybe not the most common thing for a young father to do in 1912.

When I watched a video presentation I learned how many skills the painter had: oil, sketches, water colours, woodcuts, lithographs, sculpting, even a little jewellery and stained glass windows. Apart from the sketches I liked the print series about the Lord’s Prayer, several oil portraits and some of the last, very colourful pictures that reminded me of Van Gogh.

As you have probably guessed, many works of art were gathered from all over the place for this exhibit. I eventually left the museum feeling “picture overload”, my brain had given up processing. It’s very unlikely I’ll have the opportunity to see a collection like this again any time soon, so I am very glad I didn’t miss this one.

I would have loved to show you a few more and different examples of Pechstein’s works, but can’t do that without copyright infringements. These two stamps however are in the public domain. The top one is a portrait of his wife. The bottom one shows Italian workers.

Image found on Wikimedia

If you would like to see more pictures or read more about the artist Artcyclopedia is a good source.

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