German Expressionism

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E. W. Tieffenbach

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About this work

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

Max Beckmann examines Jesus's human qualities—his inner strength and charisma, his humility and forgiveness, and ultimately his suffering—in this, his first print portfolio. Beckmann manipulates space, light, shadow, and the narrative sequence in order to heighten expressiveness, all formal techniques he would further develop in later prints and paintings.

The series begins with an image of Jesus alone in the desert, steeling himself for the forty-day journey and its attendant trials; although kneeling, he fills almost the entire height of the page. Beckmann then shows Jesus's baptism, his defense of a sinner, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Last Supper. In all of these prints, Beckmann places Jesus at the center of the composition. In the final print, however, he shifts the focus away from Jesus and onto the soldiers who crucified him. With their job complete, they while away time with a game of dice. Their mundane boredom contrasts sharply with the anguish Jesus is experiencing only a few feet away.

Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950)

Christ and the Sinner (Christus und die Sünderin) from Six Lithographs to the New Testament (Sechs Lithographien zum Neuen Testament)

One from a series of six lithographs
composition (irreg.): 10 1/8 x 9 5/16" (25.7 x 23.7 cm); sheet (irreg.): 22 7/8 x 16 7/16" (58.1 x 41.8 cm)
Cream, smooth, wove Japan.
E. W. Tieffenbach, Officina Serpentis, Berlin
W. Glückselig, Druckerei Hermann Birkholz, Berlin
First edition, 1911: 200 (including 10 on parchment, and 190 on Japan paper [this ex.]; plus trial proofs; Second edition, c. 1917 (published by J.B. Neumann, Berlin): approx. 40; plus trial proofs
Credit Line:
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Glaser 14. Gallwitz 7. Hofmaier 20 A c 2. Rifkind 127 3.
MoMA Number:

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