Max Peiffer Watenphul

Foreword to the Exhibition Catalogue “Max Peiffer Watenphul zum 70. Geburtstag” (Max Peiffer Watenphul on His Seventieth Birthday) in Salzburg


In my view, it is superfluous to write about paintings because they must speak for themselves. That is what they are made for. Paintings that require instructions are absurd.

I believe that one can have a natural sense for paintings, and that one must be inwardly open to them. This sense cannot be acquired. Just as there are people who have understanding and love for gemstones, and others who have an understanding and love for plants, so, too, there are people who possess an innate sense for the inner values of a painting. The latter people have had this sense while the Impressionists were being ridiculed, the painters of Die Brücke mocked as dumb daubers, and Paul Klee was being dismissed as a childish scribbler.

It is the same in music and in poetry: one man is deeply moved by a line of Georg Trakl’s and it leaves another man entirely cold.

So, my works should also have their effect without explanation, entirely as a matter of course, and only through themselves.

They have arisen through my love for the Mediterranean and its world. Those who love antiquity, the landscape with its olive trees and the silver foliage that is almost always changing, with its cypresses, the clear outline of its mountaintops, and its “purple gulfs” will find this love in my paintings and be unable to evade its magic.

Although my paintings live from tradition, only a person of today can portray this world in the way I have sought to make it into a painting. It was Jean Cocteau who wrote to me: “Un peintre peint toujours son propre portrait, quoiqu’il peigne. En regardant vos tableaux, je vous vois. Assez sombre, comme lorsqu’on aime.”

In: Max Peiffer Watenphul. Werkverzeichnis, vol. I. Grace Watenphul Pasqualucci and Alessandra Pasqualucci, eds. (Cologne, 1989).