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: Catalogue: Max Beckmann's The Skaters


Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Beckmann's search for the control of pure painting reached its culmination in The Skaters. His work during the period 1923 to 1932 shows strong contrasts of light and dark, more simplified composition and a relaxed, expansive technique.1 The Gothic tradition in German art influenced Beckmann in his distortion of heads, feet, legs and arms, and in the monumental character of the figures. This painting, executed in Saint Moritz, Switzerland, catches a moment when three acrobatic skaters pass between their audience and a waiter. Beckmann has "painted with abandon, for pure pleasure, without comment, implicit or explicit. . . (The Skaters) signalizes the accomplishment of the nine years that led up to it—the command of pure painting. . . (It) heralds the artist's virtuosity as a colorist and as a brilliant manipulator of the brush."2 This new style epitomized "Beckmann's greatest contribution to modern art. . . which is . . . in his establishment of a new alliance and new balance of power between form and content, between wonder and reality."3Endnotes
  1. Perry T. Rathbone, Max Beckmann, 1948, City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1948, p. 31.
  2. Ibid., pp. 33-34.
  3. Ibid., p. 8.
Referenced Work of Art
  1. Max Beckmann, German, 1884-1950. The Skaters, 1932. Oil on canvas, 50 1/2" x 38 1/2". Signed and dated, lower left: Beckmann 32. Accession 61.36.20.CollectionsMax Beckmann, New York; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 7 October, 1949; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ExhibitionSt. Louis, City Art Museum, Max Beckmann, 1948, 1948. Subsequently exhibited at: Los Angeles County Museum; Detroit Institute of Arts; Baltimore Museum of Art; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
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Source: Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III, "Catalogue: Max Beckmann's The Skaters," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 50, no. 4 (December, 1961): 20-21.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009