Max Beckmann. Departure. Frankfurt 1932, Berlin 1933-35

Max Beckmann Departure Frankfurt 1932, Berlin 1933-35

  • Not on view

Although Beckmann denied that Departure carried any specific political content, the painting has come to be seen as one of the emblematic artistic responses to Hitler’s Germany. It was begun at the time that the Nazis fired Beckmann from his professorship at the Frankfurt Art Academy, and presages his forced emigration. Departure is the first of Beckmann’s several major paintings in the form of a triptych, a three-part format that recalls medieval or Renaissance altarpieces. The elaborate narrative includes scenes of sin and salvation, but what makes the painting modern is the deliberate ambiguity of its iconography. When the New York City art dealer who bought the painting in 1937 wrote to Beckmann to say that his visitors wanted specific explanations of the images, the artist replied "if people cannot understand it of their own accord, . . . there is no sense in showing it."

Gallery label from 2012.
Medium
Oil on canvas, three panels
Dimensions
Side panels 7' 3/4" x 39 1/4" (215.3 x 99.7 cm), center panel 7' 3/4" x 45 3/8" (215.3 x 115.2 cm)
Credit
Given anonymously (by exchange)
Object number
6.1942.a-c
Copyright
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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1932 - 1937, Max Beckmann, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
1937 - 1942, Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York and Stephan Lackner, Paris, New York, and Santa Barbara, CA, probably jointly acquired from the artist.
1942, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired by exchange through Buchholz Gallery.

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