Born in Germany in 1881, Max Pechstein witnessed the emergence of French Fauvism, the rise in the popularity of Van Gogh and the many collections of Italian Old Masters situated throughout Europe. Of particular interest to the young Pechstein were the Etruscan landscape paintings, depicting the Arcadian aesthetic and most importantly, portrayals of the female figure. These combined influences contributed to a unique style among the German Expressionists, observable in the present work, Akt & Fuchsschwanz (Nude & Foxtail), painted circa 1909-1917.
Pechstein emerged as a leading member of the Expressionist collective Die Brücke, The Bridge. His intense curiosity into the relationship between man, nature, and art eventually brought him out of the city life, leaving Berlin and Dresden, where he received formal academic training and began his successful career. In pursuit of the so-called primitive cultures, the artist ventured into the distant lands of the South Pacific. His paintings presented an idealized view of native society. Like Gauguin before him, Pechstein sought an exotic land where the people lived in closer communion with nature. His later military service in the first World War only enhanced this desire for harmony.
Max Pechstein’s most celebrated works combine these influences, using bright color and heavy contrast to depict a figure in a landscape. The unrestrained vibrancy and texture of the present work demonstrates the artists’s expressive intensity, even expanding beyond the traditional picture plane. Pechstein’s Akt & Fuchsschwanz presents the wild colors and energetic paint handling for which the artist is best known.