Max Beckmann

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Max Beckmann (February 12, 1884 – December 28, 1950) was a German painter, printmaker. Although he is classified as an Expressionist artist, he rejected both the term and the movement. In the 1920s, he was associated with the German New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit).

Sourced[edit]

  • Oh I wish that I could paint again. Paint is an instrument without which I cannot survive for any length of time. Whenever I even think of gray, green and white, I am overcome with quivers of lust. Then I wish that this war would end and that I might paint again.
    • a letter to his first wife Minna, from the front, first World war, 1915; as quoted in ”Max Beckmann”, Stephan Lackner, Bonfini Press Corporation, Naefels, Switzerland, 1983, p. 14
  • The laws of art are eternal and don’t change at all, as the moral laws don’t change in human beings. (in discussion with Franz Marc who demanded in 'Der Blaue Reiter' around 1912 a new art, in relation to its own - changing - time).
    • from the exhibition 'Expressionisten, die Avantgarde in Deutschland 1905 -1920', catalog Nationalgalerie Berlin, DDR, 1986, p. 109
  • The editor of this catalog asked me to make a statement about my work. I don’t have much to write:
    - Be a child of your age.
    - Be naturalistic against your own ego.
    - Be matter-of- fact toward your inner visions.
    - My love is dedicated to the four great masters of masculine mysticism: Mäleskirchener (church-painters / muralists, fh), Grünewald, Breughel and Van Gogh.
    • from a catalog-text for his first major graphic show, November 1917; as quoted in ”Max Beckmann”, Stephan Lackner, Bonfini Press Corporation, Naefels, Switzerland, 1983, p. 14
  • Departure (also the title of one of his many triptych Beckmann made), yes departure from the illusion of life toward the essential things that wait behind appearance... ...We must insist that Departure is not bound to a political trend, but is symbolic for all times.
    • a letter to his art dealer Curt Valentin, Amsterdam, 11 February 1938; as quoted in ”Max Beckmann – On my Painting”, in the preface, Mayen Beckmann; Tate Publishing London, 2003
  • What is important to me in my work is the identity that is hidden behind so-called reality. I search for a bridge from the given present tot the invisible, rather as a famous cabalist once said, ‘If you wish to grasp the invisible, penetrate as deeply as possible into the visible’.
    • ‘On my painting’, his public speech during the exhibition ‘Twentieth-Century German Art’, London, 21 July 1938; as quoted in ”Max Beckmann”, Stephan Lackner, Bonfini Press Corporation, Naefels, Switzerland, 1983, p. 77
  • My aim is always to get hold of the magic of reality and to transfer this reality in painting – to make the invisible visible through reality… …What helps me most in this task is the penetration of space. Height, width and depth are the three phenomena which I must transfer into one plane to form the abstract surface of the picture, and thus to protect myself from the infinity of space. My figures come and go, suggested by fortune or misfortune. I try to fix them divested of their apparent accidental quality.
    • republished text of his public speech during the exhibition ‘Twentieth-Century German Art’, London, 21 July 1938; as quoted in “Max Beckmann – On my Painting”, Tate Publishing London, 2003, p. 12
  • Imagination is perhaps the most decisive characteristic of mankind. My dream is the imagination of space – to change the optical impression of the world of objects by a transcendental arithmetic progression of the inner being. That is the precept. In principal any alteration of the object is allowed which has a sufficiently strong creative power behind it. Whether such alteration causes excitement or boredom in the spectator is for you to decide.
    • republished text of his public speech during the exhibition ‘Twentieth-Century German Art’, London, 21 July 1938; as quoted in “Max Beckmann – On my Painting”, Tate Publishing London, 2003, p. 16

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