Stadel Museum Opens Beckmann & America Exhibition

. October 8, 2011 . 0 Comments

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt presents Beckmann & America an exhibition on view through 8 January, 2011.

Max Beckmann’s (1884–1950) late oeuvre from the United States will be highlighted for the first time in a monographic special exhibition shown at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. With a total of 110 exhibits, including forty-one paintings as well as numerous drawings, watercolors, printed graphic works, and sculptures, the show offers a comprehensive survey of this important artist’s fascinating last period of life and creative production. After living and teaching in St. Louis from 1947 on, Beckmann finally moved to New York where he died in 1950. Decisive from an evolutionary point-of-view, these years in America granted the artist the right environment for a new beginning and further development. Securing Departure from the MoMA, The Beginning from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as The Argonauts from the National Gallery of Art in Washington as loans, the Städel will be able to present three of Max Beckmann’s nine finished triptychs in its exhibition. These works are regarded as the highlights of the artist’s work. For Frankfurt am Main, where Max Beckmann lived from 1915 to 1933 and worked and taught at the Städel School, the exhibition project is of special importance: the Städel Museum boasts a rich collection of paintings, drawings, printed graphic works, and sculptures by the artist and has presented a series of exhibitions on specific aspects and periods of his oeuvre.

Max Beckmann ranks among the most important artists of the twentieth century. Born in Leipzig in 1884, the painter, drawing on contemporary history, mythology, and his own biography, created an oeuvre constituting one of the most outstanding productive iconographic achievements in modern art. His life and his work are closely linked with the history of Germany. In World War I he served as a voluntary medical orderly in Flanders until his emotional and physical breakdown. Impressions of the war fundamentally changed his painting. Beckmann came to focus on the brutality of everyday human relations, and the subjects of his pictures turned expressive and angular. The artist lived in Frankfurt from 1915 on where he became a professor at the Städel School ten years later. He enjoyed increasingly bigger successes in these years, which culminated in retrospectives in Mannheim, Zurich, Basel, and Paris. Beckmann, whose seemingly metaphorically encoded paintings simply fulfill the cliché of German painting, already became known in the USA through numerous solo and group exhibitions from the mid-1920s on, when his career in Germany had reached its climax. With the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933, his career was precipitously interrupted. He was deprived of his professorship at the Städel School in Frankfurt and emigrated to Amsterdam in 1937. It was only after ten years in exile, which were determined by isolation, fear, and want because of the war, that he succeeded to leave Europe for America – which was what he had ardently longed for; his New York art dealer Curt Valentin had found a teaching assignment for him. When Beckmann finally arrived in America in the late summer of 1947, he was already regarded as one of the “most powerful German Expressionists,” as he was characterized in the catalogue of the exhibition “Art in Our Time,” with which the MoMA had celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 1939. Life in the New World offered the artist undreamt-of opportunities for development. This was mainly due to encounters with certain people and progressive institutions. So it was far from Europe where Beckmann was to spend his last and extremely productive period of his life. The Beckmann catalogue raisonné lists eight-five paintings dating from these three years alone. The themes chosen comprise a remarkably small number of landscapes, comparably numerous still lifes, but also portraits as well as religious and mythological subjects.

With three thematically independent exhibitions – “Beckmann & America” in the Städel Museum (October 7, 2011 – January 8, 2012), “Max Beckmann. Face to Face” in the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig (September 17, 2011 – January 22, 2012), and “Max Beckmann. The Landscapes” in the Kunstmuseum Basel (September 4, 2011 – January 22, 2012) – this autumn art season offers the unique opportunity to explore Max Beckmann’s manifold oeuvre in a profound manner.

Curator: Dr. Jutta Schütt (Städel Museum)
Assistant: Dr. des. Karoline Feulner (Städel Museum)

Image: Max Beckmann, Stadel Museum

Category: Fine Art

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