Wednesday, October 4, 2017

“Max Beckmann: The World as a Stage”

Kunsthalle Bremen

30 Sep 2017 to 4 Feb 2018 

Museum Barberini, Potsdam

Max Beckmann (1884–1950) was fascinated by the world of the theater, the circus and music halls as metaphorical settings for human relationships and world affairs. In his œuvre, one finds numerous paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures which allude directly to these subjects and convey his idea of the world as a stage.

This exhibition focuses extensively on the imagery and history of ideas in Beckmann’s  “world theater” and illustrates how the painter and author of two hitherto neglected dramas viewed himself as a “theater manager, director, and scene-shifter.”

The core of the exhibition is formed by the extensive holdings of the Kunsthalle Bremen, which possesses one of the largest Beckmann collections in Germany including paintings and a nearly complete collection of the artist’s printed works. It is supplemented by loans from major German and international museums and private collections.
  • Max Beckmann, Self-Portrait as Clown, 1921. Öl auf Leinwand, 100 x 59 cm Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal, Photo: Antje Zeis-Loi, Medienzentrum Wuppertal © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. 
  • Max Beckmann, Actors, 1941/42. Öl auf Leinwand, 199,4 x 150 cm (Mitte), 199,4 x 83,7 cm (Flügel links), 199,4 x 83,7 cm (Flügel rechts) Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017.
  • Max Beckmann: Dance Apache, 1938, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Photo: Lars Lohrisch, © VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn 2017

  • Max Beckmann: Self-Portrait with a Saxophone, 1930, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Photo: Lars Lohrisch, © VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn 2017


This magnificently illustrated book explores Max Beckmann’s idea of the world as a stage while also providing a striking introduction to one of the 20th century’s most spectacularly creative periods of art and design. Many of the paintings by Max Beckmann show the world of the theater, the circus, and vaudeville. He assumed the position of the spectator and his paintings were the stage. He was driven by pageantry and this is the first publication to show how Beckmann’s artistic theater was palpably visual while also showing his work in the context of the history of ideas. It brings home how the painter and author of dramas that has hitherto received little attention saw himself as an "impresario, director, and scene shifter." This book grants readers highly innovative and captivating access to one of the exceptional artists of the last century and his extraordinary visual and formal language.