(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
(French, 1839–1906), Vincent van Gogh
(Dutch, 1853–1890), Rembrandt
(Dutch, 1606–1669), and Peter Paul Rubens
(Flemish, 1577–1640). 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 he 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 in Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and a host 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.