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Expressionism and Nature

For the German Expressionists, nature was an arena for healing and freedom.


Killing of the Banquet Roast (Erlegung des Festbratens) from the periodical Der Sturm, vol. 2, no. 93 (January 1912)

Max Pechstein
(German, 1881–1955)

1911. Woodcut, with watercolor additions, composition: 8 7/8 x 10 3/8" (22.6 x 26.4 cm); sheet: 9 7/16 x 11 7/16" (24 x 29 cm)

African art was an inspiration for Max Pechstein and his fellow Expressionist artists. This scene of a male hunting with a bow and arrow as two females look on from beneath a flowering tree was copied from a bronze plate made in the east African country of Benin. To capture the flatness of the plate, Pechstein made the a woodcut print by roughly gouging the wood block, using only thick lines, and distilling the scene into basic forms to create a sculptural effect. The title, Killing of the Banquet Roast, suggests this hunt anticipates a banquet feast—often a formal affair honoring someone or something.

A term loosely applied to any printmaking technique involving a relief image cut into the surface of a wooden block. The wood is covered with ink and applied to a sheet of paper; only the uncut areas of the block will print, while the cut away areas do not receive ink and appear white on the printed image.