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Max Beckmann is focus of new BCN CaixaForum show

On 21 February CaixaForum in Barcelona open its first exhibition devoted to Max Beckmann, widely considered to be one of the greatest German painters of the 20th century.

Beckmann, who was born in Leipzig in 1884 and died in 1950 in New York, was an artist who did ‘not fit’ into the pictorial narrative of his time, according to curator Tomàs Llorens.

Yet Beckmann’s personal artistic vision and his capacity to transmit ‘the climate of his time’ through his work have earned him a leading position in the history of art, said Llorens.

The exhibition includes 50 of Beckmann’s works – mostly paintings along with two sculptures and some lithographs – reflecting the artist’s most important ‘German’ years, and his time in exile in Amsterdam and the United States.

‘The Argonauts’, 1949-1950 (Argonauten). National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Donation by Mrs. Max Beckmann. (Max Beckmann, VEGAP, Barcelona, 2019)

The show splits Beckmann’s artistic career into three parts: the years before the First World War, when the artist was starting out in Berlin, followed by the post-war period when Beckmann was mainly in Frankfurt, and finally the work he did in exile from Nazi Germany, in Amsterdam and the USA.

Rather than joining the Expressionist movement of the time, Beckmann developed a very personal style based on realism that, in Llorens’ opinion, turned the artist into ‘the man who shows us the climate of his time in the most intense manner’.

Llorens does not hesitate in calling Beckmann the most important German painter of the 20th century, while also pointing out that his time in exile left an indelible mark on his work, as the exhibition endeavours to demonstrate.

After leaving Germany as a result of Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, Beckmann went first to the Netherlands and then to the US, where he would die without ever returning to his native country.

This show has been jointly organised by CaixaForum and the Museu Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid, where the exhibit premiered in the autumn.

When: 21 February to 26 May

Where: CaixaForum Barcelona

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