Beckmann, Max

(1884-1950)
   artist; best remembered for his hard, dis-illusioned renderings in the immediate aftermath of World War I. Born in Leip-zig, he began studies in 1900 at Weimar's Kunstakademie. After a sojourn in Paris, he exhibited with the Berliner Sezession. In 1906 he was awarded Flor-ence's Villa Romana Prize. In 1910 he joined the Berliner Sezession. Volun-teering as a medic early in World War I, he was discharged in 1915 with nervous depression. Barring sojourns abroad, he lived continuously in Frankfurt from his discharge until 1933, teaching at the Stadelschule from 1925 until the NSDAP dismissed him.
   Before 1914, when his art was linked with the Sezession, Beckmann was influenced by Edvard Munch and the German Expressionists.* However, the war transformed his formerly direct style. His early postwar art became hard, disillusioned, and enigmatic. Subsequent work was marked by images of can-dles, cats, and mirrors and by a preoccupation with masks, actors, carnivals, and circuses. Until the mid-1920s he used dull and sickly colors, well represented by his 1919 series Die Holle, of which Die Nacht (The Night) is best known. From about 1925, inspired by a trip to Paris, his art changed; with stronger and brighter colors, it had a pure expressiveness by 1930 (e.g., Fastnacht). In the 1930s he turned increasingly to mythological themes (Odysseus and Perseus). Much of his work, purchased by Germany's major museums in the 1920s, was labeled entartete Kunst (degenerate art) by the NSDAP.
   Beckmann moved to Berlin in 1933 and remained until 1937. After a year in Paris, he settled in Amsterdam; in 1947 he left Europe for good, emigrating to the United States.
   REFERENCES:Belting, Max Beckmann; Clair, 1920s; Friedhelm Fischer, Max Beckmann; NDB, vol. 1.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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