Max Beckmann

Biography

Max Beckmann was one of the greatest and the last of the German Expressionist masters. After seeing carnage as a medical officer in the World War I, he made the human figure — portraits of the strength and tribulations of humankind — the primary subject of his work. He strove to bring his subjects’ spiritual dimension to the surface and in the process became associated with the New Objectivity movement. Political persecution drove Beckmann from Frankfurt to Berlin in 1933, and from Berlin to Amsterdam in 1937. He taught at Washington University in St. Louis from 1947 to 1949. The City Art Museum in St. Louis mounted the first U.S. retrospective of Beckmann’s in 1948. Morton D. May, his patron and student, donated much of his large collection of Beckmann’s works to the St. Louis Art Museum, which has the world's largest collection of paintings by the artist. Beckmann retrospective exhibitions were mounted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1995, Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2002, and Tate Modern in 2003.

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