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MAX BECKMANN (1844-1950)
MAX BECKMANN (1844-1950)
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MAX BECKMANN (1884-1950)

Selbstbildnis mit steifemHut (Self-Portrait in a Bowler Hat)

Details
MAX BECKMANN (1884-1950)
Selbstbildnis mit steifemHut (Self-Portrait in a Bowler Hat)
drypoint, on laid paper watermark Roemerturm 'Antique', 1921, signed in pencil, a particularly rich, smoky impression of Hofmaier's third state (of four), printing with selective plate tone, presumably an unrecorded proof of the third state not listed in Hofmaier (Hofmaier cites nine such impressions), published by J.B. Neumann, Berlin, with margins, in generally good condition, framed
Image: 12 ¼ x 9 5/8 in. (311 x 245 mm.)
Sheet: 17 ¼ x 12 ¾ in. (438 x 324 mm.)
Literature
Hofmaier 180
Exhibited
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College Museum of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, 5 May-14 October 1984, no. 13, p. 135 (illustrated)

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Lot Essay

Max Beckmann painted, drew, etched and lithographed more self-portraits than any other artist in the modern era; his fascination with rendering his own image ranks second only to Rembrandt's life-long dedication to recording his own visage. Among Beckmann's over eighty self-portraits, Selbstportrait mit steifem Hut, executed in 1921 in Frankfurt, is one of his best-loved and most expressive graphic works. What began as a genre-like studio scene filled with all of the attributes of an artist's studio, ends in the fourth and final state as an intense self examination, completely devoid of its initial anecdotal qualities. In the third state of this etching - considered the strongest of the states - Beckmann eliminates nearly all of the extraneous details of the background present in the previous states, and pares the composition down to its essentials. The artist, dressed in immaculate bourgeois sartorial, is perfectly centered in the image and tightly framed by a cat on one side and a stylized lamp on the other.
Questions about polarities of human existence, the 'ego' and the search for the true self were lifelong concerns of Beckmann's. "To find one's self is the driving force behind all characterless souls," he wrote in his diary. Selbstportrait mit steifem Hut is a key work within Beckmann's graphic oeuvre, and may be considered a milestone in German Expressionist printmaking.

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