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Max Beckmann (Modern Masters Series) Hardcover – May 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Born in Leipzig in 1884, Beckmann achieved early success as an artist, but it was only after his contact with the wounded and dying during WWI that he began to produce the emotionally charged paintings for which he is best known today. These anxious, violent scenes, with distorted, angular figures, intense colors and compressed space, caused the Nazis to label him a degenerate artist, and in 1937 he moved to Amsterdam. In 1947, he came to the United States, where he taught at Washington University in St. Louis and at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He died in New York City in 1950. Because of the exaggerated emotional impact of his paintings, Beckmann is often called an expressionist, but as Selz points out in this lucid and insightful overview of the artist's life and work, he rejected the abstract tendencies of expressionism, which he considered too decorative, and insisted on formal structure and careful depiction of the real world. Selz also stresses that attempts to explain Beckmann's symbolism are futile because the artist never intended his complex, personal iconography to be completely understood. The 48 color and 122 black-and-white reproductions of Beckmann's paintings are of excellent quality. Selz is professor emeritus of art history at UC-Berkeley.
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
Even now, some forty-five years after his death, the works created by Max Beckmann exert an intense influence on contemporary art. His piercing self-portraits, his enigmatic yet compelling triptychs, his incisive prints all have earned him a well-deserved reputation as a creator of provocative work that is both emotionally and intellectually stimulating. Born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1884, Beckmann lived an international life, studying and working in Weimar, Frankfurt, Paris, and Berlin. Successful almost from his earliest days as a professional artist, he exhibited work to acclaim throughout Europe and America. With the Nazis' rise to power, his style and his subjects became dangerously out of fashion, and he was forced into exile - first to Amsterdam, where he spent World War II, and eventually to the United States, where he died, in New York, in 1950. Although some scholars have categorized Beckmann as a German Expressionist, he always resisted belonging to any group, asserting that "the greatest danger which threatens mankind is collectivization". He also resisted abstraction, remaining passionately committed to the figure throughout his long career. His paintings have much to say about sex, politics, and religion - which is no doubt why they so outraged the Nazis and no doubt why they have remained so absorbing to new generations of admirers.
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