- Museum number
Object: Auferstehung (Resurrection)
Series: Gesichter (Faces)
Plate 12: Resurrection; groups of figures, naked figure at centre rising towards sun. 1918
- Production date
Height: 240 millimetres
Width: 332 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For a discussion of the series see Frances Carey & Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no.128 [1982,0724.27(18)]
Text from Frances Carey & Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no. 143 [1982,0724.27(12)]
This drypoint is a reversed version of Beckmann's largest and most ambitious painting of the war years - the huge (3.5 x 5 m) 'Resurrection' now in the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (Göpel 190). The first drawing of the subject is dated 1914, and in a letter to his wife of May 1915 Beckmann talks of his recurring dreams of world destruction. Work on the painting in Frankfurt began in 1916 and seems to have taken up much of the year, and perhaps continued into 1917 and 1918. It was in fact never finished, but hung on the wall of the Frankfurt studio until Beckmann rolled it up in 1933 to take with him to Berlin. From there it accompanied him to Amsterdam and St Louis, never once being exhibited in his lifetime. In a letter to Reinhard Piper Beckmann informed him that he intended to paint four paintings of this size which would form a modern hall of devotion; nothing came of this idea.
The print follows the composition of the painting fairly closely, though of course completing the passages left unfinished. A drawing (von Wiese 390) also dated 1918 goes beyond the print in revising significant elements of the composition, but this is probably to be explained by the fact that it was commissioned by Piper. The painting is the clearest example of Beckmann's intensive study of German late medieval painting, apparent not only in the choice of subject and the introduction of portraits of himself, his wife and son and the Battenbergs in the position of praying donors positioned at the open mouth of hell, but in the Gothic forms. Dückers (Berlin catalogue, 1983, p. 82) illustrates a medieval sculpture of a morris dancer which is a source for the extravagant poses for the upper figures.
In its handling of space and perspective, and in the bizarre distortion of the figures' 'Resurrection' signified a complete break with Beckmann's earlier paintings. This is clearly seen by comparing it with his earlier large (4 x 2.5 m) 'Resurrection' its painted in 1909 (also now in Stuttgart, Göpel 104), which is inspired by El Greco and which also contains portraits of contemporaries. It is an aggregation of individual forms and disparate ideas, and so perhaps could never result in a finished painting. But its wealth of invention allowed Beckmann to make a fresh start and he quarried ideas from it for years afterwards (e.g. in the second plate illustrating Kasimir Edschmid, 'Die Fürstin', 1917: see Carey & Griffiths 1984, cat. no. 244).
This is plate 12 of 'Gesichter' (see Curator's Comments for 1978,1216.5). The five figures in the lower left of the print are, from left to right, Fridel Battenberg, Minna Beckmann-Tube, the artist, Ugi Battenberg, and, below, the child Peter Beckmann.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Sept-Jan, BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', no. 143
1999/2000 Dec-Apr, London, BM, 'The Apocalypse', no.7
2003 Feb-May, London, Tate Modern, 'Max Beckmann'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number