Max Beckman (German Max Beckmann, February 12, 1884, Leipzig - December 27, 1950, New York) was a German artist who in the 1920s joined the New Materiality artistic movement, which arose as a protest against expressionist immersion in personal experiences. “New materiality” considered the task of the artist to be a bold and passionless look at the world around her, recognizing only figurative, plot painting.
During World War I, Beckman volunteered to serve as a nurse - and returned with a nervous breakdown and a difficult vision of the world: dark, airless, cruel. Deep spiritual searches help him to experience new knowledge: he reads Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Blavatsky. He writes eerie, densely populated scenes with women tied up and excruciating torture, harlots and circus performers.
The 1920s are a time of popularity and recognition for Beckmann: the National Gallery of Berlin buys his paintings, he is awarded the gold medal of the city of Düsseldorf, he is offered a professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Frankfurt, articles are written about him .
Beckman had no illusions about the justice and mercy of worldly power. Therefore, when in 1937 Adolf Hitler gave a speech on degenerative art on the radio, the artist collected the necessary things - and the next day he and his wife left for Amsterdam, where another 10 years were waiting for a visa to the United States. Beckman will never return to Germany again.
Of course, the figure of the exiled artist who suffered from merciless tyranny was attractive to the American art establishment. But the martyr's halo alone would not be enough to achieve the success Beckman was expecting in America. In St. Louis, where the artist settled with his wife on arrival in America, is now one of the largest collections of his works. Here he met patrons, collectors, directors of art academies and museums, who received and supported his art with admiration. After moving to New York, Beckman taught at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Features of the artist Max Beckman: mystic, philosopher, artist of catastrophes, Beckman felt the powerful influence of Gothic art and artists of the Northern Renaissance. Beckman revives the traditional medieval triptych, but closely inhabits it with human figures: naked bodies, bound hands, twisted legs. In Beckman’s retracted perspective, the world seems to be storming: the element as if knocks down figures into painful and at the same time saving crowds. Clear contours, rich colors, grotesque figures, closely interacting with each other - Beckmann's paintings cause anxiety. Once in a diary, the artist wrote down: “Life is disgusting - so is art.”

Famous paintings by Max Beckman: "Night", "Acrobats", "Argonauts", "Departure", "The Descent from the Cross".
Go to biography


View all publications


All exhibitions of the artist
View all artist's artworks
Whole feed