“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.

The young artist had just turned twenty when he moved to the capital on the Spree, now Germany’s principal hub of modernist art. He was looking for “something rustling lush like silk, that you can peel apart, and wild cruel glorious life”. He found it in Berlin. He had already spent six unsuccessful months in Paris studying the French avant-garde. Upon arriving in Berlin, Beckmann immediately started work on a large-size canvas, “Young Men by the Sea” (1905). It attracted the attention of the city’s art world. When Harry Graf Kessler, director of the Weimar museum and a future patron of Beckmann, saw this work, he noted in his diary: “Most interesting item on show painting by very young artist exhibiting for first time: Max Beckmann, naked  boys on the beach”.

Beckmann stayed in Berlin for ten years on this first occasion. In 1915 he moved on to Frankfurt am Main, but he returned to the capital in 1933,  when the Nazi regime came to power. He had been dismissed from his teaching post at the Städelschule and his works had been declared “degenerate”. Hounded by the National Socialists, the artist emigrated to Amsterdam in 1937, and he was later to live in the United States. Beckmann never came back to Berlin.

With the exhibition “Max Beckmann and Berlin”, the Berlinische Galerie is bringing the artist’s work back to the city.

… “You should really come to Berlin.”

Online tickets are available here.

Read more stories about Max Beckmann here.


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