Painter, commercial artist, draughtsman, illustrator, sculptor, poet and college professor
Max Beckmann was born in 1884 in Leipzig. At the age of sixteen he began the study of painting in Weimar’s art academy, the Großherzogliche Kunstschule, from which he graduated with numerous honours. In 1907, after sojourns in Paris, Geneva and Florence, he settled in Berlin, where he joined the Secession. In the First World War Beckmann was a volunteer medical aide. His experiences were to have a lasting effect on his work, and led him to adopt an Expressionist style close to that of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). His main subject was the solitary, threatened man in an apocalyptic world. From 1915 to 1933 he taught in Frankfurt am Main at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule, or school of applied arts, the present-day Städelschule. In 1937 he emigrated to Holland, and then in 1948 to the United States. He taught in New York at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and in 1950 was awarded an honorary doctorate by Washington University in St Louis. His late work was formed and influenced by the experiences of his years in exile, and includes large mythological triptychs drenched in symbols. He died in New York in 1950.