Art Max Beckmann

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Topics: Expressionism
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Max Beckmann is a German painter who produced a wealth of work with the rise of German expressionism in the early 20th century. Today he is commonly labelled as an expressionist artist although at the time he rejected both the term and the movement itself. In the 1920s he was associated with the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), an outgrowth of Expressionism which brought a more cynical and socially critical philosophy to the art world.

Beckmann was born into a middle class family and initially learned to paint in the ‘traditional’ representative sense under the influence of Impressionist artists of the late 19th century. During the 1st world War Beckmann served as a medic and the traumatic sights he witnessed lead him to suffer a nervous Breakdown in 1915. The suffering of the first world war had a harrowing effect on Beckmann and spurred a dramatic transformation of his style from academically correct depictions to a distortion of both figure and space, reflecting his altered vision of himself and humanity. Beckmann began to create pieces that commented on the brutality of War and human nature both in terms of subject matter and stylistic details such as his famously recognised heavy emphasis on black lines and rough edges to the form.

These two self portraits by Beckmann Show Clearly how his painting style changed dramatically following his experiences in the 1st world war, His self portrait in Florence (1907) shows a near impressionistic style whilst 10 years later we see he has developed a far more defined Expressionist style. In the portrait with the Red scarf we see Beckmann has adopted a far more dark and sinister approach to the portrait using duller grey tones and a more warped sense of proportion matched with a near haunting and noticeably uncomfortable expression. The night 1918 1919 “give mankind a picture of their fate”. Oil on canvas
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Although there is some ambiguity as to the subject matter of the

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