About this artwork
Max Beckmann was one of the Weimar Republic’s most honored artists and one of those most vilified by the Nazis. This self-portrait was perhaps the last painting the artist completed in Berlin before he and his wife fled to the Netherlands on July 20, 1937. Their flight occurred just two days after Adolf Hitler delivered a speech condemning modern art and one day after the opening of the exhibition Degenerate Art, the Nazis’ official denigration of the avant-garde, which included twenty-two of Beckmann’s works. The artist departed Germany just in time: in 1937 more than five hundred of his works were confiscated from public collections.
The most brilliantly colored and aggressive of all of Beckmann’s self-portraits (he painted over eighty), this powerful work depicts the artist, near life size, on the staircase of a hotel lobby, separated from two figures in the background on the right. Beckmann steps to the left, while his dark-rimmed gaze and the entire picture plane—curtains, flowers, staircase, and banisters—seem to slide off to the right. His large hands hang down, limp, against his black tuxedo.
- Max Beckmann
- Oil on canvas
- Signed and dated, l.r.: "Beckmann/3.37"
- 75 3/4 × 35 in. (192.5 × 89 cm)
- Gift of Lotta Hess Ackerman and Philip E. Ringer
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn