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Max Beckmann

February 12, 1884 - December 28, 1950
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Max Beckmann was one of Germany’s leading 20th-century painters and printmakers, his largely allegorical Expressionistic works shaped by his experiences of war. Max Beckmann was born on February 12, 1884. From 1900 to 1903, he trained under Hans von Marées at the Weimar Academy. Upon leaving the Academy, his painting came to be influenced by both the Impressionist artist Lovis Corinth and the Expressionist Edvard Munch. Max Beckmann’s style developed to be largely similar to that of the Expressionist movement at the time; a method of painting that tended to convey specific emotions and moods with their work, distorting figures in order to achieve this. However, Beckmann rejected the movement and did not claim his work to be Expressionistic. Max Beckmann served as a medical corpsman in World War I, and this would cause a distinct shift in his artwork. Following the war, Max Beckmann’s paintings darkened, incorporating imagery of horror, pain, and lust. Max Beckmann received success as an artist from 1927-1932, while also working as a professor at the Städel School of Art in Frankfurt. However, in 1933 the Nazi regime would categorize his work as “degenerate” and forced his resignation from the school. In 1937 Beckmann fled to Amsterdam, and later moved to the United States in 1947, where he taught in St. Louis and New York until his death at the end of 1950. Max Beckmann’s depiction of the wars and political tension often undertook an allegorical or symbolic tone. Max Beckmann frequently incorporated mythological and biblical stories into his art, or fantastical worlds and characters centered in urban environments. His most famous works were his triptychs, combining religious and allegorical motifs with his typical style. Another signature motif of Max Beckmann’s was his distortion of the human form, in which he placed angular bodies drawn with thick lines in compressed spaces.

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