Beckmann and...

As the Berlinische Galerie marks its fortieth anniversary, the exhibition "Max Beckmann and Berlin" will focus for the first time attention on the decisive role the city played in the artist’s work. The art historian Julius Meier-Graefe, a contemporary of Beckmann’s, succinctly summed up the relationship between the artist and the city in 1924: “Max Beckmann is the new Berlin.”

In nine stories we unveil the extraordinary life and work of Max Beckmann – one of the most important artists of the modern era.

Max Beckmann, Junge Männer am Meer, 1905, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, © VG Bild-Kunst 2015, Repro: Renno, Weimar

Beckmann and Berlin

“You should really come to Berlin. I have now been there a whole year and I will probably stay a long time because I like it here very much,” wrote the young Max Beckmann to a friend...

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Max Beckmann: Blatt 4: Nackttanz, 1922, aus der Grafikmappe „Berliner Reise“, Berlinische Galerie, © VG BILD-KUNST Bonn, 2015

Beckmann and Night Life

“The Berlin nights are so colourful, so powerfully vibrant, so hot and so very full of the unending pursuit of pleasure and entertainment,” raved a travel guide even in the 1920s...

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Edvard Munch: Harry Graf Kessler, 1906 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie (1950 erworben durch das Land Berlin) Repro: bpk Berlin/Jörg P. Anders

Beckmann and his Rivals

Max Beckmann was witty and inventive when knocking his rivals. Works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky he tauntingly nicknamed “Gauguin carpets”, “Picasso chessboards” and “Sibero-Bayovarian piety posters”...

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Beckmann and Love

“It was love at first sight. […] By day I liked him almost better. He had beautifully bad manners and was the first person I had met who seemed completely uninhibited and free and unconventional,” wrote Minna Tube, looking back on her first meeting with Max Beckmann...

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Beckmann and the City

“Beckmann is hardly conceivable without Berlin. […] Just as people speak of Renoir and Paris, so they will one day sense what Beckmann and Berlin have in common. Berlin means struggle, tragedy, naked existence, will, energy, brutality, strength, nerve and spirit. Culture always signifies calm, certainty and tradition. Berlin has none of that.” 

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Max Beckmann: Selbstbildnis mit Sektglas, 1919, Privatsammlung, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, (c) VG BILD-KUNST Bonn, 2015

Beckmann and himself

“All my life I have tried to create a self.” The hundred or so self-portraits Max Beckmann produced played their part in establishing him as one of the great portrait painters of his day. He applied his qualities to himself in the same way as to any other subject. We usually search in vain for the brush and palette, those classical attributes of artistic self-depiction.

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Max Beckmann, aus dem Mappenwerk "Berliner Reise", Theaterfoyer, 1922, Berlinische Galerie, Leihgabe des Landes Berlin, © VG BILD-KUNST Bonn, 2015, Repro: Kai-Annett Becker

Beckmann and high society

“At one on the dot each night, I am to be found in my café drinking absinthe and constant coffee,” the twenty-year-old Max Beckmann wrote from Berlin to his friend Caesar Kunwald...

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Beckmann and Women

“Often, if he was doing a portrait of me, I would have a feeling that Max was staring at me intently, drilling into me with his eyes, and sometimes it made me nervous and embarrassed. If he noticed, he would quickly say: ‘Please, carry on with whatever you were doing and forget that I’m here. I am watching you closely because I have just started another portrait of you,” recalls Mathilde Beckmann...

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Beckmann and success

“The Nationalgalerie wrote today that the paintings had been a great sensation. […] Everyone is torn between enthusiasm and rage. […] Berlin Dresden Munich then Paris & New York,” Max Beckmann proudly reported in a letter in 1925, before his international career took off.

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Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts

Alte Jakobstraße 124–128
10969 Berlin Germany

Tel +49 (0)30-789 02-600
Fax +49 (0)30-789 02-700

Opening hours

Wednesday–Monday 10 am–6 pm

Closed on 24.12. and 31.12.

Floor plan

PDF Floor Plan