Herman Max Pechstein was born on december 31 in Zwickau as a son of a craftsman (appretur). The family of eight lived on the father’s salary who worked in a textile mill.
1888 to 1896
Visit of a civil school in Zwickau.
1896 to 1900
Max Pechstein made a decorator apprenticeship.
1900 to 1903
After his journeyman examination, Pechstein began his stuy at the vocational school of arts in Dresden with Wilhelm Kreis (professor for interior decoration).
1903 to 1906
He started a study at the “Akademie der Bildenden Künste” (academy of applied arts) in Dresden and became a pupil of Otto Gußmann, professor for decorative and monumental painting. Additionally, he strongly influenced the upswing of arts and crafts in Dresden. Max Pechstein got an own studio, where he sketched glass-windows, mosaics and wall-paintings. In 1905 he visited an exhibition with works of Van Gogh in Dresden and the museum of ethnology showed wood-carvings from the South Seas. Following he developed his first woodcut.
Pechstein left the academy with the highest award “Sächsischer Staatspreis”, also called “Rompreis”. Acquaintance and friendship with Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwing Kirchner; following he joined the art group “Brücke”, founded one year before, which members arranged numerous common exhibitions till 1910. Max Pechstein created his first lithographies and etchings.
Commission for glass-windows for townhall of Eibenstock (Erzgbirge). During summer he painted with Kirchner in Goppeln near Dresden; during autumn he worked as “Staatspreisträger” (official prizewinner) three months in Italy, where he visited Florence, Ravenna and Rome. He participated in the first exhibition of graphic arts of the “Deutscher Künstlerbund” (german artist alliance). From December he stayed nine months in Paris where he saw works of Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse; they highly inspired him in his further development; and he also could find contact to the Fauvists (e.g. he won Kees van Dongen as member of “Brücke”-group).
Pechstein participated in the “Indépendants”-exhibition. In autumn, he moved to Berlin, where he was represented with four lithographies and one gouache in the exhibition of “Berliner Sezession”.
Again represented in “Berliner Sezession”-exhibition with the paintings “Grünes Tuch”, “Weiber mit gelbem Tuch” and “Märzenschnee”. From June till September, Pechstein first stayed in the fishing village Nidden (former East Prussia).
Pechsteins works submitted for the “Berliner Sezession” were dismissed by pressure of Max Liebermann. Consequently Pechstein founded the “Neue Sezession” together with other dismissed by the “Berliner Sezession”. In June, Pechstein stayed together with Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rotluff in Dangast (near Jadebusen). The summer he spent with Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at the Moritzburger Teiche. Pechstein painted his works “Im Wasser “ and “Am Seeufer”. The lithographic series “Tanz” and “Karneval” arose.
Marriage with Charlotte Kaprolat. From March till April he visited Italy for his second time. From June till September also his second stay in Nidden followed; creation of his woodcut-series “Badende”. The foundation of an institute for “Modernen Unterricht in Malerei” (MUIM) (modern instruction in painting) together with Kirchner still showed no economic success.
Creation of wall paintings in Villa Perls built by Mies van der Rohe. Pechstein participated in the graphic arts exhibition of “Der Blaue Reiter” in Munich as well as in the “Sturm”-exhibition of Herwarth Walden in Berlin. In the same year Pechstein left “Brücke”, as he could not accept the resolution to only have common exhibitions. In summer he stayed in Nidden for his third time. He participated in the “Sonderbund”-exhibition in Cologne.
Third journey to Italy, to fishing village Monterosso al Mare near La Spezia. He travelled to Gent (by order of Walter Gropius) and to Paris. Birth of his first son Frank.
Pechstein travelled with his wife to the South Seas, to the Palau Islands (former german colony, east of Philippines). He captured the ´way of island living` in numerous drawings, water colours and wood-carvings (most of this works disappeared). Pechstein and his wife were surprised by the outbreak of war and were taken prisoners by the Japanese to Nagasaki .
In exchange for an oath of neutrality, Pechstein was set free and indirectly (e.g. via New York) returned to Germany. At least he worked as coal trimmer on a steamer. Ariving in Berlin, he found his home occupied and his studio cleared.
Military service at the West front (Somme/Flanders).
The “Palau”-paintings (“Palau”-landscapes “Der Götze”, “Der ausziehende Vogelfänger”) and graphic cycles (“Exotische Köpfe”, “Köpfe”, “Samländische Ode” and “Italienische Fischer”) arose. Pechstein sketched glass-windows and mosaics for the show-rooms of the art-dealer’s shop of Fritz Gurlitt.
Pechstein was co-founder of the “Novembergruppe” (November group) and the socialist union “Arbeitsrat” (work council) for arts in Berlin. The proclamation “An alle Künstler” (To all artists) was published with his cooperation.
Fourth stay in Nidden. Several paintings of there placed fishing houses arose; additionally “Unterhaltung” and “Hängematte I”. He lithographed the “50 Reisebilder”, “Italien”, “Südsee” and carved wood-figures influenced by primitive sculpture.
Fifth stay in Nidden. The series of paintings “Fischerleben” arose.
He created the woodcut-series “Fischerköpfe” and “Vater Unser”.
Summer stays in Leba (1927, 1932 in Rowe).
Journey to Montreux to visit his Maecenas Dr. Minnich. Pechstein became member of the “Preußische Akademie der Künste” (Prussian academy of arts) in Berlin, and obtained nominal professorship.
Divorce from his first wife. Marriage with Marta Möller. Etchings of “Willy Seidels”, “Yali” and “Sein weißes Weib”. Break-up with Wolfgang Gurlitt, and therefore end of a considerable financial support.
Stays in Monterosso al Mare, Bornholm and Switzerland.
Birth of his second son Max. Pechstein recaptured the theme ´Mother and Child`. In order of the german government he created glass-windows for the “Office of international employment exchange” in Geneva.
“Garden Club”-award of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh/USA for his painting “Calla”.
For his painting “Nordweststurm” showed in the “Berliner Sezession”-exhibition Pechstein was decorated with the “Preußischer Staatspreis”, and was selected for the exhibition- committee of the academy of arts.
Honorary diploma of Milano and Bordeaux; medallion of honour of Vienna.
Journey to South of France. “Staatspreis” (public award) of the german government.
Pechstein was tried to kick-out of the exhibition committee of the academy of arts by the National Socialists, as he was said to be a degenerated artist.
Investigations about his participation/membership of the “Novembergruppe” (November group). Pechstein had no further sales success in Germany.
Exclusion from the academy of arts; besides that confiscation of 326 works throughout german museum. The exhibition “Entartete Kunst” (degenerated art) showed 6 paintings, 4 water-colour paintings and 6 art graphics of Pechstein.
Sixth and last stay in Nidden.
Military service at “Volkssturm” (German territorial army) till his release.
After a bomb attack, the art graphics collection of Wolfgang Gurlitt, that also contained numerous works of Pechstein, burned down.
(Labour) Service in Pomerania, together with his wife. At the end of the war, Pechstein stayed in Leba. He was taken prisoner by the Russions for a short time. His home and his studio in Berlin as well as the highest part of his works were disturbed by fire. He returns to Berlin, where he was appointed to a chair of the “Hochschule für Bildende Künste” (academy of applied arts).
Pechstein wrote his memories, that were first published in 1960. He was given the freedom of the city Zwickau, that additionally established a “Max Pechstein Preis für Malerei” (M. P. award of painting).
Summer residence in Ückeritz/Usedom. Once more he contacted Schmidt-Rottluff.
On occasion of his 70th birthday, Pechstein was appointed to senator of honour of the “Hochschule für Bildende Künste” in Berlin.
“Großes Verdienstkreuz” of the Federal Republic of Germany. Summer stay in Strande near Kieler Bucht.
Summer stay at Amrum.
Art award of the city of Berlin.
Max Pechstein died on June 29 in Berlin.