Work! Ecstasy! Smash your brains! Chew, stuff yourself, gulp it down, mix it around! The bliss of giving birth! The crack of the brush, best of all as it stabs the canvas. - Max Pechstein
Max Pechstein, Self-Portrait, 1918
Herman Max Pechstein (1881-1955) was born in Zwickau, Saxony, as son of a craftsman. The family of eight lived on the father’s salary who worked in a textile mill. Pechstein was apprenticed as a decorator in Zwickau from 1896 to 1900, when he moved to Dresden to enroll at the Kunstgewerbeschule. He continued his studies from 1902 until 1906 as Otto Gussmann's pupil at the Dresden Kunstakademie. Pechstein's ceiling painting at the Dresden Arts and Crafts Exhibition in 1906, with such an unconventional colour scheme that the organisers had it sprayed with grey paint to soften the colours, attracted Erich Heckel's attention, and was invited by him to join Die Brücke, a group founded in the previous year that was quickly to become a major force in the rise of German Expressionism.
Max Pechstein in his house in Berlin-Zehlendorf, 1915
The founders of the group were all architecture students, leaving Pechstein as the only member to have received formal academic training as a painter. He remained closely involved with the group until 1910, drawing and painting in the studios of Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Dresden and also working communally with them en plein-air. Together with Heckel and Kirchner, for example, he spent some weeks during summer 1910 painting naked bathers at the Moritzburg lakes near Dresden. Paintings produced by Pechstein at this time, such as Girl in Red with a Parasol (below) are very close in style to work by other Brücke artists and are among the most important paintings of the group's communal period.
Max Pechstein, Girl in Red with a Parasol, 1909