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Max Beckmann. Self-portraits in the Graphic Arts

09.08.2011 to 03.10.2011

Neue Nationalgalerie
Neue Nationalgalerie

As part of the 'Cabinet in the Gallery' series, the Kupferstichkabinett will be presenting Max Beckmann's self-portraits in the graphic arts, on show in the New National Gallery from 9 August 2011.

With more than 200 works, often existing in various states and all containing major works, the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett presides over the major share of the 370 titles that make up Max Beckmann's body of graphic works. A central motif among them are self-portraits and opaque self-depictions.

Like no other artist of the modernist period, Beckmann made his own face and his own figure the object of a process of searching self-questioning. Whether withdrawn in melancholic self-contemplation or with a sceptical look and resolute pose, in tragicomic roles as clown and artist, as bon vivant, gallant or rogue, whether as defiant provocateur or as the silent observer of unfolding events - in all his multifarious self-portraits Beckmann does much more than merely hold up a mirror to himself.

With haunting sharpness Beckmann's self-portraits are nothing less than snapshots in time that capture his mental state and his actual living conditions, as shaken by his experience of the war. They reflect his spiritual highs and lows, evident sense of self-doubt and detachment, dumbstruck horror and protest, vanity and pride, playfulness and sense of irony. They also present us with a glimpse of the confident person who has found his place in society. In his self-portraits, Max Beckmann confronts us with his quintessential image of humanity at its most haunting, in which the individual bears chief responsibility for himself.