Dou­ble-sided Pech­stein on dis­play

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Anew ex­hibit of Max Pech­stein’s “Still Life with Nude, Tile, and Fruit” takes view­ers not only be­hind the scenes of the Ger­man artist’s ca­reer, but also be­hind the paint­ing it­self. While pre­vi­ous own­ers dis­played the paint­ing with only the still life and por­trait show­ing, the Cur­rier Mu­seum of Art is show­ing its re­verse side, which re­veals a sep­a­rate but re­lated land­scape. The mu­seum has in­stalled the dou­ble-sided paint­ing on a pedestal in a spe­cially con­structed glass frame that al­lows view­ers to walk around it and see both sides.

“This paint­ing has never been in­stalled be­fore so you can see the front and the back at the same time,” cu­ra­tor Kurt Sund­strom said. While it’s not un­usual for thrifty artists to make use of both sides of a can­vas - per­haps flip­ping to the other side if things aren’t go­ing well - it’s fairly rare to de­lib­er­ately cre­ate a dou­ble-sided paint­ing, Sund­strom said. The Fogg Art Mu­seum at Har­vard has a two-sided paint­ing by Pablo Pi­casso, he said, and Pech­stein, a Ger­man Ex­pres­sion­ist who died in 1955, com­pleted about 20 such works.

The land­scape side of Pech­stein’s paint­ing was cre­ated in 1912, when the artist trav­eled to Lithua­nia in search of places un­spoiled by civ­i­liza­tion. The still life, which shows Pech­stein’s wife, a bowl of fruit, a Delft tile and a snake, was com­pleted a year later. Based on Pech­stein’s mem­oirs and a close ex­am­i­na­tion of re­lated paint­ings, of­fi­cials be­lieve the land­scape is likely a de­pic­tion of the Gar­den of Eden, while the still life may show the temp­ta­tion of Eve.

While much of the still life side fea­tures vi­brant blues, one small sec­tion along the right side is painted in warm greens that carry over to the land­scape on the other side. To put the paint­ings in con­text, the ex­hi­bi­tion also in­cludes work by Pech­stein’s pre­de­ces­sors and con­tem­po­raries. Pech­stein’s broad brush­strokes in the still life are sim­i­lar to work by Paul Cezanne, the out­lined sur­faces evoke Pi­casso, and the fe­male fig­ure is sim­i­lar to the prim­i­tivist work of Paul Gau­gin, Sund­strom said.

The ex­hibit also fea­tures prints by other Ger­man Ex­pres­sion­ists, who grap­pled with the rapid in­dus­tri­al­ism lead­ing up to World War I. “It opens a win­dow on a his­tor­i­cal pe­riod that’s fas­ci­nat­ing to me. I think these artists some­times are bet­ter than his­to­ri­ans and nov­el­ists writ­ing about his­tory and what they’re wor­ried about,” he said. “That’s what I like about these things. They’re rich in nar­ra­tive. To use orig­i­nal sin in such a cre­ative way is pretty amaz­ing. So I hope peo­ple come here and gain ap­pre­ci­a­tion not only for a crafts­man - he’s a great painter and col­orist - but a per­son who has an imag­i­na­tion and can tell a story.” — AP

Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions are seen for sale at a stall at the Win­ter Won­der­land in Lon­don’s Hyde Park in cen­tral Lon­don. — AFP

Photo shows Karen Pap­ineau, left, and Kurt Sund­strom look at the other side of a paint­ing by Ger­man artist Max Pech­stein, in Manch­ester, NH. — AP

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