Emily J. Peters Curator of Prints and Drawings
Max Beckmann (German, 1884-1950)
Drypoint, Sheet: 41.5 x 33.8 cm (16 5/16 x 13 5/16 in.); Platemark: 31.6 x 24.6 cm (12 7/16 x 9 11/16 in.). Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2008.4
Max Beckman made more than 80 self-portraits. In this one, he posed as a well-dressed gentleman who confronts the viewer with an intensely piercing gaze and a serious, melancholy expression. Framed on the left by his cat and cast shadow, on the right by a narrow vase and ashtray, and on the top by a stiff bowler hat, his face and hand project forward from the background. The art historian Paul Schmidt described Beckmann’s spatial concoctions as “supernatural,” where “the picture is governed not by the laws of the optical qualities of real phenomena, but solely by its spiritual relations.” Beckmann’s drypoint technique achieves rich, velvety shadows and strong, blurry lines, as well as angular blocks of lines that unite the different elements of the composition.
The Cleveland Museum of Art; Jan. 14, 2018-May 27, 2018. "Graphic Discontent: German Expressionism on Paper."
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