Backstage, Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann
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Max Beckmann

Backstage, 1950

101.5 x 127 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
SG 1268
Acquired in 1989 with means provided by the City of Frankfurt am Main, the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Dresdner Bank
On loan


About the Work

The curtain has fallen for good. A look behind the scenes reveals an unreal, stage-like space of great depth. Numerous exits lead into an indeterminate darkness. Crown, sword, spear and rings – familiar quotations from the artist’s pictorial world – are in an apparently arbitrary jumble. It is Beckmann’s last painting, the one he was still working on the day before his death in New York: a metaphor for the stage of life from which the painter has withdrawn. All is quiet, not a soul is to be seen, the candle has gone out, the props have been set down forever.

About the Acquisition

In 1989 a joint initiative of the City of Frankfurt, the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Dresdner Bank AG enabled the Städel to make a prominent new acquisition. Beckmann had spent decisive years of his life in Frankfurt and taught at the Städelschule before leaving Germany in 1937 to go first to Amsterdam and later to New York. The collection of his works is thus a Städel tradition. Not only was that tradition interrupted during the Nazi era, but the Beckmann holdings assembled until then were destroyed by the confiscation of nine paintings.

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