Max Beckmann (1884-1950) Max Beckmann Self-Portrait Woodcut, 1922 230 x 153 mm Every so often the thunder of cannon sounds in the distance. I sit alone, as I often do. Ugh, this unending void whose foreground we constantly have to fill with stuff of some sort in order to not to notice is horrifying depth. Whatever would we poor humans do if we did not create some such idea as nation, love, art with which to cover the black hole a little from time to time. This boundless forsaken eternity. This being alone. – Beckman (1915) What is Beckmann’s view on the world his is a part of? What are his views on the artists’ role in society?
Beckmann, Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, 1917, Oil on canvas, 58 x 49in. Consider Beckmann’s style, how would you describe his use of space, form, subject matter, use of symbolism?
Beckmann, Max, The Night , 1918-19, Oil on canvas, 52 x 60in. How is Beckmann creating meaning within this work? What symbols/icons can you identify? What do you think they mean?
Family Picture 1920 What similar icons do you see in this work that you saw in the other work? Has the meaning of the work changed? What are the differences in the mood between each work?
Carnival ( 1920) Carnival: The Artist and His Wife (1925) Why do you think that these portraits of Beckmann and his wife/friends has been painted in this manner? What comment is Beckmann trying to make?
Beckmann’s Self-Portraits Self-Portrait as a Nurse (1915) Self portrait with red scarf( 1917)
Self-Portrait with a Cigarette (1923 ) Self-Portrait with Champagne Glass (1919)
Self-Portrait in Tuxedo (1927) Self-Portrait with Horn (1938 )
Consider the following points when looking at Beckmann’s self-portraits:
what are the stylistic differences between them?
what does a self portrait tell us about an artist?
what do these particular works tell you about Beckmann himself?
How do you know this?
does is seem that the role of the artist is being expressed here? Why/why not?
Departure (1932 ) Beckmann’s works are so laden with imagery and symbolism that changes to suit the artists’ mood, what is Beckmann working towards here? How successful is he?
Still Life with Three Skulls (1945) Beckmann’s use of a traditional Vanitas-style still life tells us a lot about what his thoughts are about the world he is part of?
Falling Man (1950) The Tempest (1949) What sort of message is Beckmann making here? These paintings are coming at the end of his career in America.
Other artists associated with the ‘New Objectivity’ Otto Dix Metropolis 1928 What stylistic similarities and differences can you see between the works of Beckmann and artists like Dix and Grosz? Consider the use of subject matter, colour, symbolism, etc.
Otto Dix At the Mirror 1921 Otto Dix Prague Street 1920
George Grosz The City 1916
Hitler in Hell 1944 by George Grosz
Possible Exam question… Kathe Kollwitz, The Survivors, 1923, Lithograph. Beckmann, Max, The Night , 1918-19, Oil on canvas, 52 x 60in.
Compare and contrast the treatment of composition and subject in these two works.
Explain the reasons for the differences. (What were the aims of the artist/s?)
Explain how these differences illustrate the different concerns of the artist within their context of early 20 th century Germany.