"Verblühende Tulpen (Withering Tulips)", 1949
Watercolour and ink on paper
17.32 x 20.08 in / framed 28.74 x 30.71 in
Expertise Alexander Pechstein, March 2, 2017
- with handmade craftsman's frame and
UV absorbing, non-reflective glass -
Über das Werk
After the difficult years of defamation and repression as a "degenerate artist" under the National Socialists, his expulsion from the Prussian Academy of Arts and prohibition from painting and exhibiting, together with his years of Russian imprisonment and the war-inflicted damage to his Berlin studio, Max Pechstein sought to relaunch his artistic career after 1945. He turned once again for inspiration to his so beloved nature along the Baltic coast. After access to his former painting locations in Nidden and Leba had been denied by the new frontiers, he revisited the Baltic for the first time, where he spent the summer in Ückeritz on the island of Usedom in 1949.
In addition to landscapes, Pechstein channelled his artistic energies into floral painting during this time. Stylistically, Pechstein retained his pictorial language and the formal and aesthetic achievements of his pre-war years. This is impressively showcased in this present work "Withering Tulips", a stilllife executed in water-colour and ink in 1949. Bright, radiant hues and dynamic, sharply outlined forms dominate the vibrant expressiveness of the representation. Viewed from the top and set against a neutral background which offers no clues as to the surrounding space, the bulbous blue vase, from which the stems of the tulips protrude, fills the sheet. From this unusual perspective the splayed red-yellow blossoms appear to reach up towards the observer from the deep and almost meet his gaze - transforming this still object into an active organism. Characteristic for the output of an artist affiliated to the post-war generation of expressionists, is Pechstein's insistent retention of figuration with this motif, and his trust in the innate formative powers of visible reality. Not least the representation of the tulips, on the point of transitioning from full bloom to inevitable decay, abounds in symbolism. Ascribed to the late period of the artist, who died in 1955, this floral work can be read as a metaphor for his own situation at the time: between boundless vitality, expressive joie de vivre and life's encroaching end.