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THE COLLECTION

Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950)

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From the portfolio

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  • Max Beckmann. Self-Portrait (front cover) (Selbstbildnis [Umschlag]) from Hell (Die Hölle). (1918/1919, published 1919)
    Self-Portrait (front cover)...
    (1918/1919, published 1919)
    Max Beckmann. Self-Portrait (front cover) (Selbstbildnis [Umschlag]) from Hell (Die Hölle). (1918/1919, published 1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Way Home (plate 2) [Der Nachhauseweg (Blatt 2)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Way Home (plate 2) [Der...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Way Home (plate 2) [Der Nachhauseweg (Blatt 2)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Street (plate 3) [Die Strasse (Blatt 3)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Street (plate 3) [Die Strasse...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Street (plate 3) [Die Strasse (Blatt 3)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Martyrdom (plate 4) [Das Martyrium (Blatt 4)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Martyrdom (plate 4) [Das...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Martyrdom (plate 4) [Das Martyrium (Blatt 4)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. Hunger (plate 5) [Der Hunger (Blatt 5)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    Hunger (plate 5) [Der Hunger...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. Hunger (plate 5) [Der Hunger (Blatt 5)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Ideologists (plate 6) [Die Ideologen (Blatt 6)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Ideologists (plate 6) [Die...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Ideologists (plate 6) [Die Ideologen (Blatt 6)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. Night (plate 7) [Die Nacht (Blatt 7)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    Night (plate 7) [Die Nacht...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. Night (plate 7) [Die Nacht (Blatt 7)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. Malepartus (plate 8) [Malepartus (Blatt 8)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    Malepartus (plate 8) [Malepartus...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. Malepartus (plate 8) [Malepartus (Blatt 8)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Patriotic Song (plate 9) [Das patriotische Lied (Blatt 9)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Patriotic Song (plate 9) [Das...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Patriotic Song (plate 9) [Das patriotische Lied (Blatt 9)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Last Ones (plate 10) [Die Letzten (Blatt 10)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Last Ones (plate 10) [Die...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Last Ones (plate 10) [Die Letzten (Blatt 10)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
  • Max Beckmann. The Family (plate 11) [Die Familie (Blatt 11)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)
    The Family (plate 11) [Die Familie...
    (1919)
    Max Beckmann. The Family (plate 11) [Die Familie (Blatt 11)] from Hell (Die Hölle). (1919)

About the portfolio

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

In the portfolio Hölle (Hell), Max Beckmann journeys, Virgil-like, through Berlin. These ten oversize lithographs present an unflinching look at social disintegration and civil violence after the catastrophe of World War I. Beckmann visited Berlin in March 1919, and depicts himself amid the misery in Hölle; his self-portrait appears in five prints and on the front cover, which, in a handwritten note, promises the viewer an entertaining spectacle.

Unlike many of his compatriots, including the disfigured veteran he encounters in the first print, Der Nachhauseweg (The way home), Beckmann came back whole. He presents a fragmented city, with bodies jutting out of the pictures' frames and figures contorted in impossible spaces. In Die Strasse (The street), a thoroughfare is bustling with daytime activity, yet no one notices the man being carried off, arms flailing, by another man. In Das Martyrium (The martyrdom), under the cover of night, communist leader Rosa Luxemburg is about to be murdered. Speeches, songs, and even last stands are futile. No place is safe: Beckmann transforms an attic into a torture chamber in Die Nacht (Night), while quiet desperation pervades his own family's home in Der Hunger (Hunger). In the final print, Die Familie (The family), Beckmann's young son, Peter, mistakes a grenade for a toy. Beckmann brings the hell of war home in these prints. His publisher, J. B. Neumann, did not sell any when he exhibited them in 1919.

Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950)

The Portfolio

Hell (Die Hölle)

Date:
1919 (prints executed: 1918-1919)
Medium:
Portfolio of eleven transfer lithographs (including front cover)
Dimensions:
composition (see child records): dimensions vary; sheet (each approx., orientation varies): 24 3/16 x 34 5/16" (61.4 x 87.2 cm) or 34 3/8 x 24 1/8" (87.3 x 61.2 cm)
Paper:
Cream, smooth, wove "japan."
Publisher:
J. B. Neumann, Berlin
Printer:
C. Naumann's Druckerei, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Copyright:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Reference:
Glaser 121-131. Gallwitz 113-123. Hofmaier 139-149.
MoMA Number:
Portfolio_Beckmann_Hell
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