Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950) was an Expressionist painter, though he shunned both the movement and the term. He worked primarily with oil on canvas, but he also dabbled in sculpture, printmaking, and drawing. He was born into a middle class family in Leipzig, Saxony, and taught himself to paint, imitating the masters such as Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens. His works would later be heavily influenced both by these painters, and by his stint as a medic during World War I.

Beckmann enjoyed his greatest success as a painter during the Weimar Republic. He taught a master class in art at Städelschule Academy of Fine Art in Frankfurt in 1925, and received the Gold Medal of the City of Düsseldorf and the Honorary Empire prize for German Art in 1927. However, Hitler's rise to power, and his banning of Modern Art was disastrous for Beckmann; Hitler removed him from his teaching position at the Art School in Frankfurt, and Beckmann was forced to flee from Germany to Amsterdam. Unsuccessful in his attempts to attain a visa for passage to the United States, he languished in poverty, and suffered his first of several heart attacks. However, he continued to paint, creating some of his most famous pieces, including Lido, Self Portrait, and Paris Society. The Bark was purchased by the National Gallery of Berlin just prior to Hitler's taking power. Beckmann is also well-known for a series of self-portraits created during his lifetime, which rivaled Picasso's in number. After the war, Beckmann relocated to the United States where he taught at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

His work has been displayed at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and a number of other galleries in Madrid, Zurich, Rome, and St. Louis, where the largest display of his work in the world can be found. In 1948, Beckmann published Letters to a Woman Painter, and Stephan Reimertz, a French novelist and historian of art, published Beckmann's biography in 2003. Beckmann died in Manhattan in 1950 of an apparent heart attack.


Born in Leipzig, Germany
Attends Grossherzogliche Kunstschule, Weimar (Studied art with Carl Frithjof Smith)
Awarded First Prize in the exhibition Painting in the United States
Died on December 27 in New York, NY


Die unbekannte Sammlung - Klassiker der Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany
Max Beckmann - Exile in Amsterdam, Pinakothek der Moderne, Kunst
Max Beckmann. Die Aquarelle und Pastelle, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
Max Beckmann, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Max Beckmann, Tate Modern, London
Beckmann in Exile, Guggenheim Museum New York, NY
Max Beckmann, Galeria d'Arte Moderna Rome, Italy
Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, Los Angeles County Museum Los Angeles, CA
Expressionism-Die Avantgarde in Deutschland 1905-1920, Nationalgalerie and Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, Germany
German Realist Drawings of the 1920's, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, NY
German Art of the 20th Century, Royal Academy London, England
Expressionism: A German Intuition, Guggenheim Museum New York, NY
Max Beckmann, Tate Gallery London, England
Max Beckmann Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
Max Beckmann zum Gedächtnis, Haus der Kunst Munich, Germany
Recent Paintings by Max Beckmann, Buchholz Gallery New York
20th Century German Art, New Burlington Galleries London, England
Degenerate Art, Circulated by Nazis
German Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
1st Paris exhibition, Galerie de la Renaissance
1st US Exhibition, I.B. Neumann's New Art Circle New York
Print Exhibition, I.B.Neumann Berlin, Germany
Max Beckmann, Galerie Paul Cassier Berlin, Germany
First solo show at the Kunstverein, Magdeburg and the Grossherzogliches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, Weimar
Deutscher Künstlerbund Weimar