About this work
Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Beckmann's six drypoints loosely follow the dreamlike, erotic tales that unfold in this collection of five novellas by his friend Kasimir Edschmid, a leading Expressionist author. Beckmann included his own self-portrait in two of the prints: in one he appears with his family; in the other, he is seen groping a prostitute. In the years near the end and immediately following World War I, his most prolific period of printmaking, Beckmann began using Expressionist pictorial strategies, which earlier he had criticized, to convey his increasing disillusionment with the war. Distorted figures and cramped spaces heightened the emotional intensity of his images.
Beckmann met Edschmid through Ugi Battenberg, an old friend from his student days in Weimar and whose studio he used in Frankfurt while recovering from his mental breakdown during World War I. After Die Fürstin, Beckmann and Edschmid continued collaborating. In 1918, Beckmann contributed to Edschmid's volume of artists' statements, Schöpferische Konfession (Creative credo). The following year, he joined the progressive artists' group Darmstadt Secession, which Edschmid had organized.
Their publisher, Gustav Kiepenheuer in Weimar, wrote in a letter to a friend, "Beckmann and KE—I don't like either of them, but they are current." Upon hearing this, Edschmid and Beckmann raised their honoraria by 1,000 marks each.