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CaixaForum pays tribute to work of Max Beckmann

Barcelona venue opens new exhibition devoted to Germany's great 20th-century painter

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20 February 2019 06:22 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Thursday will see CaixaForum in Barcelona open its first ever exhibition devoted to Max Beckmann, widely considered to be the greatest German painter 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 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.

‘Beckmann. Figures de l’exili’ has been jointly organized by CaixaFòrum and the Museu Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid, where the exhibit premiered in the autumn.

Berlin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and the US

The exhibition 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 US.

Beckmann remained apart from the expressionism of the day and 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, but also points out that his time in exile left an indelible mark on his work, as the exhibition endeavors to show.

After leaving Germany with Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s, Beckmann went first to the Netherlands and then to the US, where he would die, never having returned to his native country. 

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  • A museum-goer looks at 'The Argonauts,' the last piece created by Max Beckmann, at an exhibit in the CaixaForum on February 20 2019 (by Pau Cortina)

  • A museum-goer looks at 'The Argonauts,' the last piece created by Max Beckmann, at an exhibit in the CaixaForum on February 20 2019 (by Pau Cortina)