MoMA
Max Pechstein. Somali Dance (Somalitanz). 1910
Max Pechstein

Somali Dance (Somalitanz)

1910
Not on view
Medium
Woodcut with watercolor additions
Dimensions
composition (irreg.): 13 3/8 x 14 5/16" (34 x 36.3 cm); sheet (irreg.): 14 15/16 x 21 1/8" (38 x 53.7 cm)
Publisher
Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin
Printer
unknown
Edition
one of six hand-colored proofs outside the edition of 20
Credit
Purchase
Object number
273.1955
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Max Pechstein's deliberately crude execution—rough gouges, simplified forms, and contrasts of color—heightens the primitivist atmosphere of his subject, an African dance. The closed-eyed flutist is totally given over to the raw power of the music. The dancers move ecstatically to the beat of the drum, with their heads thrown back and feet pounding the earth, completely in touch with nature.

Pechstein, like his fellow members of the Brücke, embraced the arts of Africa and other non-European cultures as more authentic and uncorrupted antidotes to the stultified refinement of German society. These performances, however, were no less artificial or commercialized than cabarets featuring European performers. Pechstein based this print, for example, on a Somali dance he saw at an ethnographic show in Berlin or Dresden. These Völkerschauen, products of colonialism that were usually held in zoos, displayed the lives of "natural peoples" for the entertainment of European audiences.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Provenance information
Galerie Gerd Rosen, Berlin; to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1955

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource