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Thu Dec 29, 2016, 11:38 AM

You Can Actually See It For A Short Time: Beckmann's "Hell of Birds."



In an age of encroaching fascism around the world, I have had cause to reflect on the life of the Painter Max Beckmann, who is not as widely known as he should be.

Happily the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ("The Met" in New York City is now featuring an exhibition of his work entitled "Beckmann in New York."

After becoming a successful artist in the 1920's in Weimar Germany, his works were banned and confiscated by the Nazis as "Degenerate Art."

Beckmann fled to Holland in 1938 after producing powerful works to protest fascism, and lived and worked in Amsterdam - which he viewed as a way station - and lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands before finally being granted a visa to the United States. He refused to return to Germany and called his life in the United States which began in 1948 the "end" of his "exile."

He taught at Washington College in Saint Louis, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Art. He died of a heart attack at Central Park West and 69th Street in New York City in 1950 while walking on his way to see one of his works which was being exhibited at The Met.

It is in an unbelievable exhibition of his work there right now; I spent several hours yesterday, and frankly, I wept, because of what is happening to my country.

My son - an artist in his own right - had only a mild criticism of the show, this being that they used the words "National Socialism" to describe Nazism, and that the show did not focus heavily enough on Beckmann's politics. This said, when asked by an art dealer to explain the symbolism of his powerful triptych "Departure" Beckmann is said to have responded, "If you need me to tell you that, send it back. "Departure," which is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is regrettably not continuously on display is also available for viewing at the Met show.

Here is a link to the show: Max Beckmann in New York

The show runs through February 20, and if you're in New York, and want to see some powerful art, I strongly recommend this show.

The "Hell of Birds" - sometimes called "Hell's Birds" is in a private collection and is thus not available for public viewing very often. Thus, you may never have a chance to see it live again, and no Art book or photograph or web page can do it justice.

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