Art Lecture with Thomas Germano - Max Beckmann: Artistic Transformation and Metamorphosis

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A dramatic change from Max Beckmann’s classical academic style occurred in paintings completed after 1914. This artistic transformation was the direct result of the artist’s experiences in WWI for the German cause, where he served as an ambulance driver and orderly at the front of the carnage. A conscientious objector to the war, Beckmann's experiences led to a mental breakdown and the abandonment of creating "pretty pictures." His war experience scarred and matured the artist, leading to a new expressionist style involving circus and theatrical themes presented as Renaissance compositional triptychs. These works communicate powerful metaphors representing universal, psychic wounds. Witnesses to war have rarely been able to articulate the intense collective loss of reason as Beckmann was left after WWI.
The German artist’s visual response, though abstracted and symbolically treated using surrogate performers and distorted musical instruments, represents the cacophony of The Great War’s violence and chaos explored allegorically. 

In the 1930's as the Nazis prepared for a new war, Beckmann's art was censored, removed from public institutions, and labeled degenerate art by the Nazis. Beckmann went into self-imposed exile, first in Amsterdam, then he relocated to America after the war.  

Professor Thomas Germano will present a visual lecture about Beckmann and the censorship his art experienced during turbulent times.  The Library is presenting this program in conjunction with Banned Books Week (Oct. 1 to Oct. 7). (Sponsored by the Friends of the Library)