Playing Children, Broad Format 16_5.jpg

Playing Children, Broad Format

Item Code: MB-136-s
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Gesichter (Faces)
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Though Beckmann had experience as a medical orderly in the First World War, and much of his experience is explored graphically in other prints, in the Gesichter portfolio many of the images are of how war has affected those away from the front. This is perhaps no more clearly evidenced than in ‘Playing Children’, in which small children run around in mock battle in the streets. In this scene Beckmann must have in mind the influence of the First World War on children, perhaps the ease with which young men would put themselves forward for battle (and the number of very young men who would then lose their lives in the trenches): in the midst of the conflict, one boy wears a bobble-hat that closely resembles the spiked helms of german soldiers on the front lines, while another in the foreground, with shaved head, cap and knee-high boots, appears as if in uniform.
Max Beckmann portraitBorn in 1884, Max Beckmann was a German artist and writer who, though he rejected the term and movement, was most closely associated with German Expressionism. Though as a young man he practiced drawing like the old masters, his experiences in the First World War as a medical orderly dramatically changed his style, which became increasingly distorted in both colour and form.

Best known for his extraordinary number of self-portraits, Beckmann received great critical acclaim throughout the years of the Weimar Republic, but his art was denounced by the Nazis and, upon Hitler’s ascension to power, rejected as degenerate art. Originally failing to gain a visa to the U.S. and painting in a studio in Amsterdam, Beckmann eventually emigrated after the war to New York. He died there in 1950.
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