Friday, April 06, 2007

Max Beckmann in Amsterdam at Van Gogh Museum

Max Beckmann in Amsterdam at Van Gogh Museum


Carnival, triptych, 1942–43, Max Beckmann, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City. © c/o Beeldrecht Amsterdam 2007.

AMSTERDAM.- From 6 April through 19 August 2007 the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will host the exhibition Max Beckmann in Amsterdam, 1937-1947. For the first time, the Amsterdam period of one of Germany’s most notable twentieth-century artists will be examined in depth. The exhibition will show more than 100 paintings and works on paper, drawn from international collections, both public and private. Furthermore the exhibition will include a section on the general situation in Amsterdam during the Second World War.

Max Beckmann (1884-1950) is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. In his use of colour, spatial composition and levels of symbolism Beckmann exerted a major influence on modern art in Germany and beyond. Beckmann himself drew inspiration from the work of the Flemish Primitives and Vincent van Gogh, among others. Above all, it was his daring use of colour that ranked Beckmann alongside Matisse and Picasso as one of the most sensational artists of the first half of the twentieth century. Beckmann succeeded in expressing the mysteries of life like no other painter. He created his own entire lexicon of images, with which he communicated his dreams and fears by means of a highly personal symbolism. The question of the meaning of existence is a dominant presence in his work. Beckmann came to the conclusion that man is not free, but is shackled by earthly chains. He looked on life as a play or a masquerade, in which each person plays their own role.

In 1937 Max Beckmann fled the Nazi terror in Germany to settle in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where he was to live for the next ten years. The immediate cause for his flight was the radio address Hitler gave in the run-up to the Entartete Kunst exhibition, which showed the works of artists the Nazi regime condemned as depraved – including some by Beckmann. Beckmann painted over a third of his entire oeuvre while in the Netherlands. This period may thus justifiably be identified as his most productive. It was here that he produced five of his nine monumental triptychs. These spectacular works of art, comprising a central panel with flanking wings, rank among the icons of modern art. In 1947 Beckmann was given a visa for the United States, where he died after just three years.

The exhibition shows masterpieces from this Amsterdam period, including the three impressive triptychs Carnival, The Actors and Perseus. His paintings bear witness to his interest in the world of the cabaret, Dutch landscape and life in Amsterdam. Through his diary, letters, photographs and an impression of his studio, the visitor to the exhibition is given an insight to the life Beckmann lived in Amsterdam.

Max Beckmann in Amsterdam 1937-1947 is organised in conjunction with the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich. The exhibition will be on show in Munich from 13 September, 2007 through 16 January 2008. Running concurrently with the exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum, the Bible Museum in Amsterdam will show The Apocalypse, a major series of lithographs by Beckmann.

‘Beckmann walking tour’ - Alongside a visit to the exhibition art lovers can go on a walking tour of 25 venues in Amsterdam where Beckmann lived, worked and garnered inspiration for his paintings. The historical city map In the footsteps of Max Beckmann is on sale in the museum shop.


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