Max Beckmann Self-Portrait with a Cigarette Frankfurt 1923

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 514 The David Geffen Wing

This is one of many paintings and prints in which Beckmann used self-portraiture as a form of role playing. Here, he presented himself as a stern and successful businessman, holding a cigarette in a gesture of nonchalance or defiance. But at the lower left, almost imperceptible, is a red polkadot sash. A sly reference to the dress of a clown, it mocks and rebukes his mask of authority. Beckmann frequently portrayed himself in circus costume.

Gallery label from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011.
Oil on canvas
23 3/4 x 15 7/8" (60.2 x 40.3 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. F. H. Hirschland
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Painting and Sculpture

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Acquired from the artist by J.B. Neumann (1887-1961), New York, by 1927 [1]; Franz H. Hirschland (1880-1973), New York, before 1930 [2]; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1956 (Gift of Dr. and Mrs. F.H. Hirschland).

[1] Erhard Göpel and Barbara Göpel, Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde, Bern: Kornfeld & Cie., 1976, vol. 1, no. 221. Included in the exhibition Max Beckmann, New Art Circle (J.B. Neumann), New York, April 12-May 11, 1927. Reproduced on the front cover of Art Lover: I.B. Neumanns Bilderhefte: Max Beckmann, April 1915.
[2] Included in the exhibition Modern German Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 12-April 26, 1931, no. 7. Lender: F.H. Hirschland.

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