Main River Landscape, 1918
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.
The scene depicted in ‘Main River’ has been identified as the Lower Main Bridge in Frankfurt, the viewer looking on towards the Sachsenhausen section of the city. Towards the upper right we see the Städel Museum’s recognisable dome, and in the background the Friedensbrücke (the ‘Peace Bridge’). As Beckmann’s composition for this print was taken from an earlier sketch, the view has been reversed from real life. Purely landscape, the image might seem incongruous in a series entitled Gesichter: Beckmann’s studio lay only several hundred feet away from the bridge, however, leading on into Scweizer Strasse, and in this sense the view is a literal ‘vision’ in which Beckmann perhaps found solace during wartime.
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