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THE COLLECTION

Johannes Presse, Vienna

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From the illustrated book

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  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 8) from Ebbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 8) from Ebbi
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 8) from Ebbi. 1924
  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 14) from Ebbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 14) from...
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 14) from Ebbi. 1924
  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 26) fromEbbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 26) fromEbbi
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 26) fromEbbi. 1924
  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 30) fromEbbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 30) fromEbbi
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 30) fromEbbi. 1924
  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 36) fromEbbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 36) fromEbbi
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 36) fromEbbi. 1924
  • Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 44) from Ebbi. 1924
    Plate (facing page 44) from...
    1924
    Max Beckmann. Plate (facing page 44) from Ebbi. 1924

About this illustrated book

Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

In six penetrating drypoints, Beckmann drew out the conflicting emotions underlying his first play, Ebbi, which he described as a "modern Hamlet." The sharply rendered comedic scenes and absurdist hallucinations express his simultaneous disdain and desire for the comforts of middle-class life.

Bored and restless, Eberhard Kautsch (Ebbi) yearns to become a poet and lead a life unencumbered by his dull family, the daily drudgery of office work, and hemorrhoids. Johanna Löffel, a seductive young painter, spirits him away to a cheap brothel, where his impotence mirrors his inability to overcome conventional morality. There they meet a thug recently released from jail, Jakob Nipsel, whom Beckmann modeled on himself in the illustrations. A wild night of cocaine-induced hallucinations follows. The trio then breaks into the apartment of Ebbi's nouveau-riche friends. Realizing he cannot stomach robbery and murder, Ebbi saves the doorman from Nipsel's violence and returns, a hero, to bourgeois life.

In addition to Ebbi, Beckmann wrote two other plays, neither of which was a theatrical success. Ebbi itself was not performed until 1980. After Beckmann's frequent publisher Reinhard Piper declined to publish the play, Otto Nirenstein agreed to issue a small edition of thirty-three copies through his Johannes-Presse in 1924, and commissioned the illustrations from the artist.

Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950)

The Illustrated Book

Ebbi

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Author:
The artist
Date:
1924
Medium:
Illustrated book with six drypoints
Dimensions:
page (each approx.): 13 x 9 9/16" (33 x 24.3 cm); overall: 13 3/8 x 9 5/8 x 3/8" (34 x 24.5 x 0.9 cm)
Paper:
Cream, smooth, wove.
Publisher:
Johannes Presse, Vienna
Printer of Plates:
Rudolf Lauterbach, Vienna
Printer of Text:
H. Engel & Sohn, Vienna
Edition:
33, signed and numbered I-XXXIII at the colophon, on wove paper; plus unknown number of unnumbered copies reserved for the artist
Credit Line:
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Copyright:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Reference:
Gallwitz 274-276. Hofmaier 306-308.
MoMA Number:
214.1952.1-6
Themes:
Literary Subjects
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