Leipzig, 1884 - New York, 1950
The maximum exponent of German expressionism together with Otto Dix and George Grosz, the life of Max Beckmann has coincided with the blackest period of modern German history – the two wars and Nazism. Of a solitary and independent spirit, Max Beckmann developed an expressionist style with a completely personal language, always figurative, distanced from any of the tendencies of his peers.
He began to draw when he was young, and at the age of 16 was admired in the School of Applied Arts in Weimar.
In 1912, he began his first impressionist exhibition and achieved a notable success, which was to enable him to dedicate himself completely to painting.
After the outbreak of the First World War, he was mobilized by the German army and served as a male nurse until he was discharged after suffering a deep nervous depression. This would vary his artistic mentality, profiling his style towards darker and more dramatic formats.
His period as a teacher started out in Frankfurt in 1915. He gave classes in different centres until the Nazi doctrine began to be imposed, and he fell into misfortune. In 1933, his art, like that of the considered modern artists, was declared to be “degenerate” by Adolf Hitler and it was taken out of galleries and museums.
Beckmann was exiled in Paris and after that, Amsterdam, where he would remain ten years before installing himself in the USA.
He died in the city of New York in 1950 after a heart attack while he was giving directions to the Metropolitan Museum in order assist in the exhibition “American Painting Today” in which he himself exhibited another work of his.
His art is crude, provocative and satirical, deliberately rough. On his canvases are reflected the intense events which he was to live, clearly showing his moods. Max Beckmann not only is important as a painter, but also as a witness of the great dramas in his time which destroyed Man.
“How many more times we die, more intensely we live", Max Beckmann.
“The baker (self portrait)’, aiguafort amb punta seca en teixit, 1921.