Art Diary

Max Beckmann – Departure

18 November 2022

Themes of desire, loss and departure are the focus of this exhibition at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (25 November–12 March 2023), which considers how the German modernist Max Beckmann drew on his personal experiences to express the anxieties surrounding the First and Second World Wars. Forced to leave Germany in 1937 after his art was deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, Beckmann sought sanctuary first in the Netherlands before later settling in the United States where he remained until his death in 1950. The artist’s travels around Europe during the interwar years are documented in many of his landscape paintings, such as The Harbour of Genoa (1927) which depicts a moonlit, industrial view from the artist’s balcony. The exhibitions borrows its title from the large-scale triptych Departure (1932–35), which captures the mounting terror and uncertainty as Hitler gained power in Germany, with the central panel depicting a fantastical royal family seemingly fleeing on a boat. Meanwhile, later works, such as the joyful paintings Boulder – Rocky Landscape (1949) and San Francisco (1950), demonstrate Beckmann’s fascination with his new surroundings in America. Find out more on the Pinakothek der Moderne’s website.

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Departure (1932–35), Max Beckmann. Photo: © 2022. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

Sea with Large Cloud (1943), Max Beckmann. Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich. Photo: © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Boulder –Rocky Landscape (1949), Max Beckmann. Photo: © Saint Louis Art Museum