Germany • 1847−1935

Max Lieberman (German Max liebermann, July 20, 1847, Berlin - February 8, 1935, Berlin) - German artist, head of the Berlin Secession, one of the brightest representatives of impressionism outside of France.

Features of the artist Max Lieberman: Lieberman made his way from gloomy, coloristically strictly naturalism in brown tones to sunny, airy impressionism; masterly wrote the light pouring through the branches and foliage of trees, "Lieberman's sunspots" were and remain a constant subject of admiration.

Famous paintings by Max Lieberman: "Dutch School of sewing", "Beer garden in Munich", "Alley of parrots".

Max Lieberman's childhood is a real expanse for the psychotherapist. Here you are both parents who do not accept the child, and the window between the parental room and the nursery, so that at any moment you can see if the sons behave well enough, and Max’s constant indication of his elder brother George as an example of what he should and persecution at school with a simulation of disease in order not to attend classes. And besides - Jewish nationality in the kit. In Germany of the 1930s, this was a big problem ...

He was 13 when the first public exhibition of his works took place. Parents are forbidden to sign "this" by their last name. Only a year earlier, Max went with his mother to the artist Anthony Volkmar - she painted a portrait of Frau Lieberman. According to legend, then the boy first made sketches in pencil on paper ... Exception from the university (chemistry department, where another brother successfully studied, Karl), as it is not difficult to guess, the warmth in relations with the family also did not add. The confrontation with his parents lasted almost his entire life, because of which Max Lieberman was prone to depression.

Nevertheless, the father agreed to study his son at the Art Academy in Weimar. His first teacher was the historical painter Ferdinand Pauwels. With his submission Lieberman met with creativity Rembrandtand it became one of the strongest cultural upheavals of youth. Soon, thanks to the financial side of Brother George (the same one whom, according to his parents, the young Max should be equal to), he went to the Netherlands for the first time.

The next time, for a long time, the threshold of the parent mansion, Max Lieberman, crossed in 1892. His mother was seriously ill, and in order to spend the last few days with her, the son — already a successful artist — returned home. After the death of his mother, he and his father even managed to restore relations. Old grievances are a thing of the past. Could he, in his youth, tormented by misunderstanding of his parents, imagine how hard his father’s life would be given to him? In 1894, Max Lieberman, along with his brothers, inherited a millionth state and a luxurious parental mansion. But, of course, it was no longer that curly, shy boy, whom his parents did not understand as a child.

The artist that paints working people

WITH Mihai Munkachi Lieberman met in Dusseldorf. And not without his influence, he found his first niche - the image of working people. No sentimentality, no moralizing. These are workers, they work, and, as a rule, they do not gracefully embroider on a hoop, but are engaged in activities that are not particularly photogenic, as we would say today. For instance, plucked geese. Adolf Menzel considered Lieberman the only one who "Draws people, not models".

A rare artist at the end of the XIX century bypassed Paris. Lieberman also went to France. He failed to conquer Montmartre, after the Franco-Prussian war the Germans were not honored here. Paris did not give him success, but a new direction, and in the first place it was indicated by the Barbizons. Summer 1874, the artist spent in Barbizon. He was particularly impressed Milletalso he was interested Daubigny and Corot. Barbizontsy had a considerable influence on the development of impressionism in general, and specifically Lieberman, under their influence, abandoned the heavy naturalism of Munchachi. One of the first works in which he uses light techniques of impressionism is the “Dutch School of Sewing”. But the final turn to impressionism was "Nursing Home in Amsterdam". It is in this picture that the famous “Liebermann sunspots” first appeared. The artist continues to experiment with light painting and remains faithful to the "working" subjects.

And conquer Paris Lieberman still managed. He was even knighted in the Legion of Honor, and only from the second time. The first proposal for the persistent recommendation of the Prussian government had to be abandoned, politics is politics.

About family

Lieberman's wife was Martha Markwald, with whom they were already related by family ties - Martha's sister married brother Max Lieberman. Their only daughter Kete was born in 1885. He turned out to be a caring father and even abandoned art for a while in the hassle of a newborn, but the separation was not long. Visiting neighbors living in front of the spouses Bershteinov, Lieberman noticed them pictures of Degas and Mans. And in general, Bershteynov was going to color the artistic community, so that a break in participation in public life did not become a break in creativity.

Having achieved success, recognition and confidently getting on his feet in the financial sense, Max Lieberman lost interest in “working employees”. From now on, the plot of his paintings became an easier life.

Lieberman and Berlin secession

The end of the 1890s for the artist Max Lieberman turned out to be extremely successful. The Academy of Arts allocated a large hall for his personal exhibition, awarded a gold medal, awarded the title of professor. And most importantly, he became a bridge between avant-garde and traditional art. The Berlin Secession is a peculiar variation on the theme of the French Salon of the Outcast. This association also emerged as an opposition to the academicism that dominated at that time, stifling all new trends in painting. After the Union of Berlin artists once again rejected the paintings Edvark Munch, and to participate in the Big Berlin exhibition did not accept the work Walter Leistikova, 65 artists united in Berlin secession. The leader unanimously elected Max Lieberman. The artist very well knew how to communicate and find a common language with people of various views, knew how to charm and find a compromise that would suit everyone. Critics were wary of a daring union, but no one dared to challenge Lieberman’s own talent, nor even question his place at the top of the artistic Olympus.

The very first exhibition of the Berlin Secession in 1899 was a resounding success. During his reign, Lieberman managed to bring the exhibitions of the association to the level of European cultural events. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the president of the secession his personal large exhibition was organized. Lieberman was still at the zenith of fame, at that time he was the most famous German artist. True, tired of the hustle and bustle, increasingly shied away from active social events. Yes, and health was naughty.

Adherent of naturalism and impressionism, Lieberman rejected abstract art and more than coolly spoke of expressionism. So it happened that the former symbol of opposition to conservative academism, Lieberman moved to the opposite position. This became the point from which the split in the Berlin Secession began. Headed a new generation of rioters Emil Nolde. He reproached the president for inerseness, dictatorship and the desire to hinder artistic progress (not entirely fair comments, given the heterogeneous composition of participants in the exhibitions of the association). 40 of the 42 members of the Berlin Secession board voted to expel Emil Nolde, but Lieberman himself opposed it. However, a crack in the formerly strong community appeared. In November 1911, Lieberman left the presidency of the Berlin Secession. By and large, this was the beginning of the end of German impressionism. Yes, and the secession quickly collapsed. Part of the artists united under the leadership of Lieberman in the Free Secession, some went behind Nolde to the New, but none of the associations reached Berlin's glory during its heyday. Lieberman himself chose a garden in his home on Wannsee, where he retired from the big world.

Dirty business politics

In the First World War, Lieberman supported the policy of the Kaiser, imbued with patriotic sentiment, participated in the propaganda of war, supported the theory of class peace. His signature stands under the appeal "To the cultural world," who denied the war crimes of Germany. However, the artist rather quickly returned to his private world, almost ceased to leave the country house, trying to stay away from high-profile public affairs. However, his brilliant career did not end there. After the war, Lieberman was elected president of the Prussian Academy of Arts. In this post, he again showed virtuoso diplomatic qualities.

Thanks to Lieberman, modern trends penetrated the walls of the Academy. Even to the unloved expressionism, he now treated with a little more understanding. The 80th anniversary of the President of the Berlin Academy of Arts has passed in a big way. And, perhaps, this was the end of well-being, moreover, due to far more terrible phenomena than artistic differences. Damned for the German history of burning books, on May 10, 1933, Max Lieberman resigned. Illusions are no longer there, a terrible epiphany overtakes what is happening with his country. It was also clear that it would not be better in the near future, the books being burned are just the beginning. “I live solely out of hate. I no longer look out the window of this room, I do not want to see a new world around me ", - He said, locking himself in a house on Paris Square, trying to hide from the screaming exclamations of the thugs marching under the windows. Failed.

The Academy of Arts, which came under the Nazi rule, ignored the death of its honorary president. The artist's wife after his death tried to emigrate to her daughter in the United States, but she was not released. Elderly Martha Lieberman was held hostage by the Nazi regime. Her accounts froze, the houses were seized. In the winter of 1943, she suffered a stroke, bedridden. Having learned that the Nazis intend to send her to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, Martha Lieberman chose to take a loading dose of a strong sleeping pill ...

Author: Alain Esaulova
Go to biography


View all publications


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