MAX BECKMANN ( 1884-1950 )
Beckmann achieved early success as an artist, but it was only after his contact with the wounded and dying during WWI that he began to produce the emotionally charged paintings for which he is best known today. These anxious, violent scenes, with distorted, angular figures, intense colors and compressed space, caused the Nazis to label him a degenerate artist, and in 1937 he moved to Amsterdam. In 1947, he came to the United States, where he taught at Washington University in St. Louis and at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He died in New York City in 1950. Because of the exaggerated emotional impact of his paintings, Beckmann is often called an expressionist, but as Selz points out in this lucid and insightful overview of the artist\'s life and work, he rejected the abstract tendencies of expressionism, which he considered too decorative, and insisted on formal structure and careful depiction of the real world. Selz also stresses that attempts to explain Beckmann\'s symbolism are futile because the artist never intended his complex, personal iconography to be completely understood.
Selz is professor emeritus of art history at UC-Berkeley.