On July 24, 2008, the Neue Galerie opens “Max Beckmann: Self-Portrait with Horn,” an exhibition focusing on one of the greatest, most resonant paintings by the German Expressionist artist Max Beckmann (1881-1950). The show will include other paintings and drawings by Beckmann, as well as important portraits and self-portraits from the Neue Galerie collection by such artists as Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Christian Schad.
Self-Portrait with Horn was painted in 1938, just after Beckmann fled Nazi Germany to seek refuge in Amsterdam. The exiled artist shows himself isolated and withdrawn, alone on the island of his soul, as he put it. His sidelong glance suggests that he is sunk in his own dark thoughts. Yet Beckmann vividly highlights his head, hands, and musical horn, focusing our attention on his intellect and spirit. The painting reflects the artist’s abiding faith in the dignity of the individual.
While the war raged in Europe, Self-Portrait with Horn played a vital role in helping to establish the artist’s reputation in America. Beckmann finally set sail from Europe in August 1947 to take up a teaching post at the Washington University Art School in Saint Louis. For the remaining three years of his life, Beckmann relished the companionship and vitality he discovered in the United States.
A fully illustrated catalogue for the exhibition, written by distinguished art historian Jill Lloyd, will be available in the Neue Galerie Book Store and on the museum website for $30.