The Easel

30th June 2020

Walking a tightrope

Beckmann came out of WW1 in bad shape. Thereafter, he portrayed city life and modernity in grim, often obscure ways. How do we interpret his acclaimed self-portrait, done at a time of career success? Is it a self-celebration, or does the figure’s inaccessibility denote some unease? Beckmann often juxtaposed conflicting imagery in a work. And, he admitted, “I can see neither all in black nor all in white.”