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Max Beckmann (1884–1950)

The Small Operation, 1915

There is more than a little irony in the title of this drypoint, since the soldier’s ordeal, as he struggles on the operating table against the interventions of medical personnel, seems to be anything but minor.

Born in Leipzig in 1884, Max Beckmann would personally experience the calamities befalling Europe and the world in the first half of the 20th century, until his death in New York in 1950. No other artist has so effectively rendered on paper the madness of war, Germany’s moral and social crisis in the 1920s, and the evils of Nazism.

Beckmann holds a special place in the museum’s collections: his private correspondence shows that, after travelling to Paris he stopped at Colmar on the way back to Germany in 1903 or 1904 to admire the Isenheim Altarpiece, which had a considerable impact on his art. Grünewald’s influence and the expressionist character of his paintings are fully evident in the works produced by Beckmann immediately following his trip. Beckmann’s prints and drawings are perfectly in keeping with one of the museum’s areas of interest, the ties between German 20th-century artists and France.

Max Beckmann (1884–1950)
 

Max Beckmann, The Small Operation, 1915. Drypoint, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar.