Lovers I, 1916
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.
One of the earlier prints of the series, orginally completed in 1916, is ‘Lovers I’. A man and woman recline naked on a bed, while an almost comical rug - bear or tiger-skin - looks on towards the viewer. As with many of Beckmann’s drypoints, the print shows heavy signs of burnishing and reworking, particularly in the placement of the figures. While the title suggests a romantic coupling, Beckmann’s expressive style hints at a sordid, erotic undertone: both bodies are gnarled, not soft, curved, young or sensuous; the woman keeps on her stockings; this is perhaps a different liaison to the one we might expect between ‘lovers’.
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