1919–1921 Bauhaus student
Max Nehrling was born on 11 May 1887 in Posen (Poznan). In 1899, at just twelve years of age, he began his career as an artist at the Fürstliche freie Zeichenschule (free drawing school) in Weimar. From 1902 to 1906 he entered into an apprenticeship as a lithographer with the company Reineck & Klein. From 1908 to 1909 he worked as a lithographer with Carl Rembold in Heilbronn, and in 1910 he was employed as a draughtsman by the company O. de Rycker & Mendel in Forest-lez-Bruxelles (Brussels). In 1911 Nehrling enrolled to study at the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule Weimar (school of arts and crafts). Here, he attended classes in colour with Dorothea Seeligmüller, in ornamentation with Henry van de Velde, and other classes taught by Dora Wibiral. In the same year, the young lithographer transferred to the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunsthochschule Weimar (school of art). Here, he studied under Gari Melchers, Fritz Mackensen, Walther Klemm and Otto Rasch until 1914. In 1913–1914 Nehrling, Gottlieb Krippendorf and Rudolf Riege established an artists’ colony known as 'Künstlerkolonie Föhlritz', near Dermbach in the Rhoen region. During World War I, Nehrling served as a soldier in France.
When the Staatliche Bauhaus was set up in Weimar in 1919, Nehrling enrolled to study there. On the preliminary course and in life drawing classes, he was taught by Johannes Itten. He also attended the workshop for printed graphics under the tutelage of Walther Klemm. Nehrling studied at the Bauhaus until 1921, when he transferred to the recently established Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Kunst Weimar (Weimar Institute of Fine Arts), where Walther Klemm had been appointed to teach. Here, Nehrling mainly studied under Klemm and had his own studio. After completing his studies in 1926, Nehrling worked as a freelance artist in Weimar. Nehrling’s artists’ colony was revived as early as 1920 and, with Nehrling’s involvement, lasted until 1957.
Nehrling withdrew from the formal production of art in the late-1930s. In 1942 he was listed only as a member of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts, since his work was 'limited, not practiced as a main profession'. But in 1945, towards the end of World War II, Nehrling resumed his artistic career. In 1953 he was employed by the district council of Erfurt to deal with student applications and work contracts. In 1956 he took a study trip to the Netherlands. In the same year at the age of 69, on the initiative of the central administration of the Verband Bildende Künstler (VBK), Nehrling was awarded a pension by the government of the GDR for his lifework as an artist. Max Nehrling died in Weimar on 18 September 1957.