Max Pechstein – Expressionist mit Fernweh und Reiselust

In May 1914, one of the most outstanding artists of his time embarked on the adventure of his life. Luggage as well as 28 suitcases and boxes with painting utensils were already shipped when Max Pechstein (1881-1955) and his young wife Lotte set off for the South Seas. They were inspired by the desire to escape "everything forced and cultivated" and to experience a life far from civilization in unity of man and nature. Far away from Europe, Pechstein hoped for "a safe, work-friendly rest". Motifs such as nudes, bathers, farmers, stone carriers and fishermen inspired his joy of experimentation. The stay on the Palau Islands came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War. But the fascination with the art of African and Oceanic peoples, which Max Pechstein had already felt as a member of the Brücke group of artists, remained a lasting one. The experiences of his voyage to the South Seas remained the theme of his art and the written memories of his life throughout his life. Although Pechstein lived in Berlin, he always sought artistic fulfilment away from the big cities in regions largely untouched by tourism: on the Pomeranian coast, the Curonian Spit or in Liguria.

When the former King Albert Museum celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, this was a wonderful occasion to make a long-cherished dream come true: to present the KUNSTSAMMLUNGEN ZWICKAU as a Max Pechstein Museum. Since then, the descendants of the Zwickau-born "Brücke" artist Max Pechstein (1881-1955) and the City of Zwickau have experienced an overwhelming public response to the world's largest permanent exhibition of works by the important Expressionist artist. It comprises around 50 works from seven decades, ranging from the earliest surviving paintings to works from the last years of his life and work, including landscapes, portraits and still lifes as well as lesser-known decorative objects such as stained glass, mosaics and designs for wall paintings. Due to the close cooperation between the Zwickauers and his heirs, especially the very active Pechstein grandchildren Julia and Alexander, and through generous donations, the steadily growing own collection includes not only paintings but also more than 160 drawings, watercolours and prints. In addition, there are applied works and over 450 letters and postcards, some of which are illustrated by the artist himself. It is precisely such documents that are naturally also important for art history research.