His Most Famous Work (Our Father Who Art in Heaven) – Max Pechstein

German ‘Expressionist’ painter and printmaker Hermann Max Pechstein or Max Pechstein was born on December 31, 1881, in Eckersbach, a suburb of Zwickau in Saxony, Germany. His ‘Expressionist’ influence was rooted to the inspirational works of Vincent Van Gogh. During 1896-1900, to kick-start his artistic journey, Pechstein worked as an apprentice to a decoration painter in Eckerbach. Later on, Pechstein went to study at the Dresden School of Applied Arts, where all through his stay from 1902-1906, Professor Otto Gussmann became his another influencer. At Dresden, Pechstein and Erich Heckel together joined the ‘German Expressionist’ art group, Die Brücke (The Bridge), in 1906. Max was the sole group member with a formal art education. Earlier, at Dresden, the creator of “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” Pechstein, had won the ‘Saxon State Prize’ for his wall paintings and for stained-glass windows & mosaics designs. He had also painted many ceilings and altarpieces for the ‘Third German Crafts Exhibit.’ During the same period, Pechstein traveled extensively to Italy & France, where the works of the ‘Etruscans’ and the early ‘Renaissance’ artists inspired him thoroughly.

In 1906, Max Pechstein permanently moved to Berlin and founded the Neue Sezession. He was elected its President. Soon Pechstein gained acceptance as a ‘Graphic Artist’ & sculptor, while gathering wide acclaim for his decorative and vivid paintings, carrying the essence of Van Gogh, Matisse, and the ‘Fauves.’ In 1912, the members of Die Brücke dismissed Pechstein for exhibiting at the Berlin Secession, against the group’s policy. Pechstein joined military services in 1915, but was soon released due to health problems. In 1921, Hermann left Berlin and settled in the Northern fishing village of Nidden, where he stopped producing political work. Here, in 1921, Pechstein created a portfolio of 13 woodcuts, with a title page displaying Lutheran translation of a Christian prayer called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The title page was called “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” and is considered the most famous work of Max Pechstein.

The hand painted woodcut “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” shows God emerging as a divine power among clouds, in the sky. The work has German phrases to impart identity to the figure. At the top, the woodcut is labeled as “Vaterunser,” which means “Our Father.” In the middle is written “Der Dubist,” meaning “The Dubist,” while the base line says “IM Himmel,” meaning “In the Sky.” The style showcased in this ‘Biblical Artwork’ demonstrates several non-European influences with its linear-one-dimensional patterns, flattened shapes, and panoptic black planes, reflecting the Dix’s emotional highs. To draw attention towards the synchronal religious life, the prayer stressed on local language with figures in the rest of the series dressed as North Sea anglers of Nidden.

Overall, in his life, Pechstein created 850 prints, which included 390 lithographs, 290 woodcuts, including “Our Father Who Art in Heaven,” and 170 etchings. Max Pechstein served as a professor at the Berlin Academy, before Nazis fired him in 1933. He was later restored to his previous rank after the fall of Nazis in 1945. Pechstein passed away on June 29, 1955.