About the artist
Max Beckmann is born in Leipzig on February 12, 1884. In his early youth he is already making sketches of circus and theater audiences. At sixteen he begins studying at the Grand Ducal Art School in Weimar.
In 1903–4 Beckmann lives in Paris, where he visits variety theaters and concert halls. He continues to pursue this passion during his Berlin period from 1904 onward, regularly attending chamber music and symphonic concerts as well. In 1906 he marries the painter and later opera singer Minna Tube.
At the start of the First World War, Beckmann volunteers to serve as a medic. Numerous drawings and prints are marked by his experiences of daily life in wartime. They lead to a profound transformation in Beckmann’s work and culminate in a psychological breakdown and his discharge from the military in 1916. That same year the painter moves in with friends in Frankfurt am Main. His regular café, the Café Rumpelmayer, is a meeting point for the theater scene and is famous for its concerts. He writes the plays The Hotel, Ebbi, and The Ladies’ Man.
After divorcing Minna in 1925 he marries Mathilde von Kaulbach, known as Quappi. Thanks to a professorship at the Städelschule from 1929 and the sales of his paintings in Berlin, Paris, and New York, in the following years Beckmann becomes one of the most famous and most successful German painters of his day.
In 1933, Beckmann’s paintings are defamed by the National Socialists as “degenerate.” He loses his position at the Städelschule and moves to Berlin, from which he then emigrates via Paris to Amsterdam in 1937.
Following the end of the war in 1945, Beckmann again takes a number of trips, and in 1948 he moves to the United States. One day before his death he completes work on his triptych Argonauts. Max Beckmann dies in New York on December 27, 1950.