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Max Beckman

Many paintings by Max Beckmann (1884–1950) show the world of the theater, circus, and music halls. He presented his paintings as stages. Showmanship was a driving force behind his work. He viewed this ‘world theater’ as a model for basic human experiences.

Motives of the spectator dominated the work of Max Beckmann (1884-1950) since the early 1920s: variety – and Carnival artists, acrobats, clowns and actors. Beckmann saw this theme as an expression of the theatre of the world. Thus, he exhibited his work in the tradition of the Baroque idea that understands world affairs as a façade game that refers to an underlying power. Max Beckmann. World Theatre is the first exhibition to the central theme in the work of the painter.

Max Beckmann is one of the most important artists of classical modernism. In the 1920s, he was close to the new objectivity. He was later as expressionist, which received early international attention with his black outlines and bright colors. Many of his famous triptychs hang in museums in the United States. Including the actor triptych from the Fogg Art Museum of at Harvard University, which is at the heart of the new exhibition in the Museum of Barberini is located. Max Beckmanns paintings, sculptures and prints often show scenes that play on or behind the stage: vaudeville – or circus acts, actor in the wardrobe or Showmen on the fair can be seen.

Also added are the elf portraits, in which Beckmann presents itself as a clown or artist. For Beckmann, the role of the spectator was a way to comment on world events and to personal experience. In the face of his personal experiences and the dramatic developments on the political world stage – 1933 his teacher training at the Frankfurt Städel School terminated him, after 1937, he found himself in exile in Amsterdam – Beckmann was the theatre of the world as a symbol for the current events. He was looking for the truth behind the masquerade, and this circus and theater provided the templates: life is a balancing act not only for Acrobat and not just for actors a role-playing game.



Museum Barberini
Alter Markt, Humboldtstr. 5–6
14467 Potsdam | Germany



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