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GERMAN

Pechstein, Max
born: 1881 Zwickau, Germany
died: 1955 Berlin

In 1906 Max Pechstein joined the Brücke group of artists in Dresden, to which Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who appears in the drawing in the Studio (c. 1908-1910), also belonged. This small-scale work shows the characteristic traits of Expressionism as practiced by the Brücke artists: A preference for primary colors, strong color contrasts and homogeneous color areas; a suppression of details in defining forrn; the heavy black contours demarcating fields of color; the tendency of the line to angular or zig-zag shapes; and finally, the impulsive strokes of the chalk, which continuaily cllange direction. Form and color applied to paper in this way have produced a comPact image of enormous vitality which would appear to contradict the basically calm and tranquil nature of such a scene. The simplicity of expansive, integrated Forms which would come to characterize Pechstein's further development, is seen to good effect in the canvas The Green Sofa (ig~o). The key motifs of the painting are evoked by a few, decisive lines: The safa with its bulging, quilted backrest; the cat rolled up in the corner; and the girl with a blue ribbon in her hair, seated at the other end of the sofa and smiling as if lost in a daydrearn. The orange and red tones of her complexion contrast strikingly with the green of the sofa, which is subdued by means of black strokes. The girls pose - left arm and left leg drawn in, right arm and leg extended, torso inclined to the right, head in counterpoise to the left - engenders an overall outline' of great interest and vitality, which is underscored by the sweeping contour lines. The already womanly curves of he body are emphasized by the stripes of her short, clinging chemise. Pechstein's art found more ready acceptance on the part of contemporary audiences than that of his Brücke confreres, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Erich Heckel - probably because his visual point of departure, the characteristic forms ofthings, always remained strongly apparent in the finished image.

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