Max Beckmann is a famous German artist, graphic artist, writer of the XX century. The work of Max Beckmann is a kind of reaction to the most acute problems raised by the war and revolution. Beckman expressed themes of disaster, despair and fear in an expressionist style. Numerous self-portraits contained the master’s personal emotional experiences, his worldview and civil position.
Biography of Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann was born on 12 February 1884 in Leipzig in the Kingdom of Saxony, German Empire. He early became interested in mystical knowledge of God, in the light of which he tried to discover the secret knowledge of all things. He studied painting at the Weimar Academy of Arts. The closeness to the sea element was manifested already in the first works. Subsequently, the marine theme ran like a red thread through all the painter’s work.
Max Beckmann experienced the hardships of the war. In 1914 he went to the front as a soldier of the medical unit. The military events affected the artistic style. Elements of expressionism were traced in the paintings, reflecting social transformations and the defenselessness of the individual. After a nervous breakdown, Beckman was demobilized, but scenes of human suffering continued to exist in the paintings. In 1915, he portrayed himself exhausted, with genuine frozen fear in his eyes.
In the 1920s, the artist turned to urban subjects, as well as circus and theatrical themes.
Seeking to reduce perspective and placing it at the angle of the composition of the whole picture, Max Beckmann created the illusion of spatial constraint.
This time was marked by world recognition. Max Beckmann has received the Imperial Honorary Prize, Gold Medal and other high awards. In 1925 he began teaching at the School of Applied Arts in Frankfurt.
In 1930, the political situation in Germany changed and Max Beckmann was persecuted. The National Socialists declared him a representative of degenerate art, banned him from teaching, and removed the paintings from the museum collections in Germany. Most of them were sold to foreign private collections, many of the masterpieces were destroyed. The oppressive atmosphere of fascism forced the artist to leave first to Holland, and in 1947 to the USA. In exile, Beckman was left to live in the world of his own past.
The paintings were dominated by mythical symbols and allegories.
The artist died on December 27, 1950 from heart failure. In addition to pictorial works, he left to posterity diary entries and essays in which he outlined his philosophical thoughts.
Max Beckmann’s paintings are more than reflections of space and time. This is a search for the origins of the injustice and terrible cruelty that swept the 20th century.