* 1893 Mülheim/Ruhr
† 1966 Wesel
The printmaker and sculptor Otto Pankok began his training as an artist by spending several months in 1912 at the Düsseldorf and Weimar Art Academies. In Weimer his teachers were Fritz Mackensen and Albin Egger-Lienz. Pankok dropped out, however, preferring to teach himself at Dötlingen near Oldenburg. From there Pankok went to Paris for two months to attend the Académie russe and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Pankok was conscripted in 1914 and after long stays in hospitals and sanatorias was discharged in 1918. After the Great War Pankok went to Berlin and East Frisia several times, finally settling in Düsseldorf, where he, like Gert Wollheim, joined the avant-garde artists' association 'Junges Rheinland'. Later Pankok and Otto Dix were active in the 'Neue Kunst Frau Ey' gallery circle in the quest for a contemporary and truthful art idiom. From 1922 Otto Pankok travelled extensively in Italy, the South of France, Spain and the Netherlands. While sketching on these trips, Pankok continually reverted to his motif of choice: the destitute and degraded. In 1931 Pankok devoted himself more intensively to sculpture. Impressed by the itinerant life led by Roma and Sinti, however, Pankok embarked on a cycle of drawings featuring 'Gypsy' motifs, followed by 'The Passion', comprising sixty drawings. Pankok would remain faithful to these themes in his prints even when the National Socialists began to defame him in 1936 and confiscated many of his works as 'degenerate'. He continued to work illegally, living during this period in Gildehaus, in the Bourtanger Moor and in Emsland but keeping most of his pictures hidden near Soest. Pankok, who was in the Eifel at the end of the second world war, moved again to Düsseldorf in 1946, where he began to teach a drawing class a year later and continued to do so until 1958. While thus employed, Pankok was able to travel frequently to France and Yugoslavia. After he ceased to teach, Pankok moved to Haus Esselt at Drevenack on the lower reaches of the Rhine, where he again began to work intensively with woodcuts. Otto Pankok died at Wesel in 1966. Now Haus Esselt is the Otto Pankok Museum. Pankok's work reveals the influence of van Gogh, whom he revered, and its theme is the sufferings of the oppressed. Expressionism informs his line and palette stylistically.