The Early Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann (1884–1950), one of the outstanding painters and draftsmen of the 20th century, also dedicated himself to graphic art in different periods of his career. He began to explore the field as a recognised painter belonging to the group of Berlin Secessionists around Lovis Corinth, Max Liebermann, and Max Slevogt. In his early graphic work, Beckmann favored chalk lithography, which allowed a painterly approach focusing on atmospheric light and shadow effects – an only little known form of expression by the artist.
Beckmann’s earliest works dating from before 1914 in the Städel’s collection constituted the core of the exhibition “A Painter’s Black Art. Max Beckmann’s Early Graphic Work”. The Städel’s holdings include illustrations of mythological and biblical scenes, as well as pictures of everyday life in the city, nudes, and portraits. The comparison of Max Beckmann’s early graphic art with works by excellent French forerunners such as Honoré Daumier and Edouard Manet revealed its compelling character.
The exhibition in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut was presented in parallel to the major show “Max Beckmann. The Watercolors and Pastels” in the Schirn Kunsthalle (3 March – 28 May 2006).
CURATOR: Dr. Jutta Schütt, Städel Museum