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Max Beckmann

Trip to Berlin 1922 (Berliner Reise 1922)

1922
Not on view
Medium
Portfolio of eleven lithographs (including cover)
Dimensions
composition (each approx.): 18 3/4 x 14 1/8" (47.7 x 35.8 cm); sheet (each approx.): 21 15/16 x 21 1/8" (55.8 x 53.7 cm)
Publisher
J. B. Neumann, Berlin
Printer
C. Naumann's Druckerei, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Edition
100 (with about probably 60 sets issued in half-linen portfolio with on the front cover either the lithograph "Self-portrait with Suitcase" [this ex.] or a lithographed list of titles)
Credit
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
310.1951.1-11
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Type
Portfolio

In this portfolio, made three years after the revolutionary upheavals of 1919, Berlin is a city of disillusioned people quietly resigned to their fates. The rich play cards, attend the theater, and while away the hours in boredom. The poor beg on the street and enjoy the momentary distractions of a dive. Beckmann compressed his scenes into tight, windowlike frames that barely contain their inhabitants, creating a sense of claustrophobia and discord. He lived in Frankfurt but visited the capital in 1922 to create these prints, which he conceived as a sequel to his portfolio Hell (1919).

Gallery label from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011
Additional text

As depicted in Max Beckmann's portfolio Berliner Reise 1922 (Trip to Berlin 1922), in the years just after revolutionary upheavals following Germany's defeat in World War I, Berlin is a city of disillusioned people quietly resigned to their fates. Neither politics nor sex can rouse any interest. The rich play cards, attend the theater, and while away the hours in boredom. The poor beg on the street, sleep in cramped quarters, and enjoy the momentary distractions of a dive bar.

In these prints, Beckmann chronicles the many sides of life in the capital of the new Republic. Emphasizing the claustrophobic and discordant, he compresses scenes in tight, windowlike frames that barely contain the figures that fill them. By contrast, he depicts himself alone in three self-portraits, as an outsider who observes but does not participate, arriving in the city with suitcase in hand, sitting in his hotel room, and, as a chimneysweep in the final print, surveying the city in the new dawn.

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Beckmann conceived of this series as a sequel and moral complement to Hölle (Hell), his 1919 portfolio of postwar Berlin. He visited Berlin in early 1922, and by April the lithographs were ready for printing. Pleased, he wrote to publisher J. B. Neumann: "I think it ended up being a good and actually quite amusing thing."

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Provenance information
Buchholz Gallery, New York; to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1951

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