Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Beginning

Artist:
Max Beckmann (German, Leipzig 1884–1950 New York)
Date:
1946–49
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Overall: 69 x 125 1/2 in. (175.3 x 318.8 cm); left (a): 65 × 33 1/2 in. (165.1 × 85.1 cm); center (b): 69 × 59 in. (175.3 × 149.9 cm); right (c): 65 × 33 1/2 in. (165.1 × 85.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Accession Number:
67.187.53a-c
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 901
As a child growing up in Leipzig, Germany, Beckmann was especially fond of illustrating imaginative journeys. In Beginning, Beckmann looks back to his childhood with fondness and humor. Completed in 1949 when the artist was sixty-five years old, the panels are autobiographical. Beckmann’s memories of his schooldays in Germany are balanced by a dream fantasy on the right and left panels, respectively. In the central panel, childhood memories and dreamworlds intermingle. Deeply impacted by both World Wars and his exile from Germany, Beckmann’s work typically integrates tragic themes with expressionistic brushwork and bright colors.
#1842. Beginning
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Inscription: Signed and dated (right panel, lower right): Beckmann/ St L. 49
[Buchholz Gallery, New York, 1949; sold on October 15, 1949 to de Groot]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (1949–d. 1967; her bequest to MMA)

New York. Buchholz Gallery. "Max Beckmann: Recent Work," October 18–November 5, 1949, no. 22.

Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Adelaide Milton de Groot Loan Collection," January 10–February 12, 1950, unnum. checklist.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern European Paintings from New York Private Collections," June 22–September 30, 1956, no catalogue.

Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. "Masterpieces from the Adelaide Milton de Groot Collection," December 2, 1958–March 1, 1959, no. 1.

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "Max Beckmann," September 25–October 28, 1968, no. 100.

Haus der Kunst, Munich. "Max Beckmann," November 9, 1968–January 6, 1969, no. 96.

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. "Max Beckmann," January 16–March 2, 1969, no. 96.

Philadelphia. Peale House Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. "Max Beckmann: Paintings, Graphics, and Drawings," April 23–May 3, 1970, no catalogue.

Washington, D.C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "The Golden Door: Artist-Immigrants of America, 1876–1976," May 20–October 20, 1976, no. 179.

London. Whitechapel Art Gallery. "Max Beckmann: The Triptychs," November 13, 1980–January 11, 1981, unnumbered cat. (pl. 8).

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Max Beckmann: The Triptychs," January 22–March 8, 1981, unnumbered cat. (pl. 8).

Frankfurt. Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut. "Max Beckmann: Die Triptychen im Städel," April 16–June 21, 1981, unnumbered cat. (pl. 8).

Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. "Max Beckmann," April 6–May 1, 1983, no. 31.

Haus der Kunst, Munich. "Max Beckmann Retrospective," February 25–April 23, 1984, no. 122.

Nationalgalerie Berlin. "Max Beckmann Retrospective," May 18–July 29, 1984, no. 122.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Max Beckmann Retrospective," September 7–November 4, 1984, no. 122.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Max Beckmann Retrospective," December 9, 1984–February 3, 1985, no. 122.

Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 69).

Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.

New York. Guggenheim Museum Soho. "Max Beckmann in Exile," October 9, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 19.

Paris. Centre Georges Pompidou. "Max Beckmann, un peintre dans l'histoire," September 10, 2002–January 6, 2003, no. 84.

New York. MoMA QNS. "Max Beckmann," June 25–September 30, 2003, no. 84.

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. "Drei: Das Triptychon in der Moderne," February 7–June 14, 2009, unnumbered cat. (pp. 94–95).

Frankfurt. Städel Museum. "Beckmann and America," October 7, 2011–January 8, 2012, no. 68 (as "The Beginning").

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Max Beckmann in New York," October 19, 2016–February 20, 2017, no. 27.

Benno Reifenberg and Wilhelm Hausenstein. Max Beckmann. Munich, 1949, p. 82, no. 656, list it in the collection of the artist, New York.

Dorothy Seckler. "Reviews and Previews." Art News 47 (November 1949), p. 52.

Emily Genauer. "Beckmann's Harnessed Power." Art Digest 24 (November 1949), p. 13.

Howard Devree. "Van Gogh in Full: The Metropolitan Opens a Comprehensive Loan Exhibition—Two Beckmann Shows." New York Times (October 23, 1949), p. X9, ill. (middle panel).

C[harles]. C. C[unningham]. "Adelaide Milton de Groot Loan Collection." Wadsworth Atheneum Bulletin no. 13 (January 1950), p. 1, ill.

Perry T. Rathbone. Max Beckmann. Exh. cat., Buchholz Gallery. New York, 1951.

Clifford Amyx. "Max Beckmann: The Iconography of the Triptychs." Kenyon Review 13 (Autumn 1951), p. 622.

Erhard Göpel in In Memoriam: Max Beckmann, 12.2.1884–27.12.1950. Ed. Erhard Göpel. [Frankfurt], 1953, pp. 24, 28.

Erhard Göpel. Max Beckmann in seinen späten Jahren. Munich, 1955, p. 53.

Erhard Göpel. Max Beckmann: Die Argonauten, ein Triptychon. Stuttgart, 1957, p. 19.

Erhard Göpel. "Max Beckmann, 1884–1950." Die grossen Deutschen 4 (1957), pp. 536–37, 545.

Stephan Lackner. Max Beckmann, 1884–1950: Die neun Triptychen. Berlin, 1965, p. 26, ill. (color).

Frederick Zimmermann. Beckmann in America: The Address Delivered by Frederick Zimmermann Before the Max Beckmann Gesellschaft at Murnau on July 15, 1962. New York, 1967, p. 14.

Gert Schiff. "Max Beckmann: Die Ikonographie der Triptychen, Umrisse einer geplanten Arbeit." Munuscula Discipulorum. Kunsthistorische Studien, Hans Kauffmann zum 70 Geburstag, 1966. Ed. Tilmann Buddensieg and Matthias Winner. Berlin, 1968, pp. 281–82, fig. 237.

Gottfried Sello. "Beckmann zwischen Aktualitat und Historie. Zur Ausstellung im Münchner Haus der Kunst." Die Zeit (November 15, 1968), ill.

L[aszlo]. G[lozer]. "Max Beckmann's Beginning." Süddeutsche Zeitung (November 23, 1968), ill.

Friedhelm Fischer. "Max Beckmann. Neue Wege zum Verstandnis seiner Kunst." Neue Zürcher Zeitung (July 27, 1969), ill.

Charles S. Kessler. Max Beckmann's Triptychs. Cambridge, Mass., 1970, pp. 77–86, ill. opp. p. 77 (color).

Friedrich Wilhelm Fischer. Max Beckmann: Symbol und Weltbild. Grundriss zu einer Deutung des Gesamtwerkes. Munich, 1972, pp. 202–5.

Erhard Göpel and Barbara Göpel, ed. Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde. Vol. 1, Katalog und Dokumentation. Bern, 1976, pp. 477–78, 537, 544, 559, no. 789.

Cynthia Jaffee McCabe. The Golden Door: Artist-Immigrants of America, 1876–1976. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D. C., 1976, pp. 362–64, no. 179, ill. (color).

Erhard Göpel and Barbara Göpel, ed. Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde. Vol. 2, Tafeln und Bibliographie. Bern, 1976, pls. 292–94.

Klaus Gallwitz, ed. Max Beckmann, die Triptychen im Städel. Exh. cat., Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie. Frankfurt, 1981, pp. 51, 79, 98–101, ill. p. 50 (color).

Henry R. Hope. Max Beckmann. Exh. cat., Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale . Fort Lauderdale, 1983, unpaginated, no. 31, ill. front cover (color), dates it 1949.

James D. Burke in Max Beckmann Retrospective. Ed. Carla Schulz–Hoffmann and Judith C. Weiss. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst, Munich. Saint Louis, 1984, pp. 64, 67.

Peter Selz in Max Beckmann Retrospective. Ed. Carla Schulz–Hoffmann and Judith C. Weiss. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst, Munich. Saint Louis, 1984, p. 164.

Christian Lenz in Max Beckmann Retrospective. Ed. Carla Schulz–Hoffmann and Judith C. Weiss. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst, Munich. Saint Louis, 1984, pp. 310–12, no. 122, ill. (color).

Doris Schmidt in Max Beckmann Retrospective. Ed. Carla Schulz–Hoffmann and Judith C. Weiss. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst, Munich. Saint Louis, 1984, p. 470.

Fritz Erpel. Max Beckmann: Leben im Werk. Die Selbstbildnisse. Munich, 1985, pp. 373–74, no. 207/A, fig. 295 (center panel).

Kay Larson. "The Met Goes Modern: Bill Lieberman's Brave New Wing." New York Magazine 19 (December 15, 1986), p. 47, ill. p. 44 (color).

Michael Desmond in 20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Canberra, 1986, pp. 68–69, ill. (color).

Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 141, colorpl. 118.

Uwe M. Schneede in Max Beckmann: Gemälde 1905–1950. Ed. Klaus Gallwitz. Exh. cat., Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig. Stuttgart, 1990, pp. 40, 43.

Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, pp. 442–43, no. 22, ill. (color).

Deborah Solomon. "The Gallery: Max Beckmann in Exile." Wall Street Journal (November 20, 1996), p. A20.

Robert Hughes. "Scenes of Hellish Heat." Time 148 (December 16, 1996), p. 80, ill. p. 78 (color).

Richard Feigen. Tales from the Art Crypt: The Painters, the Museums, the Curators, the Collectors, the Auctions, the Art. New York, 2000, pp. 135–36.

Didier Ottinger in Max Beckmann. Ed. Sean Rainbird. Exh. cat., Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. New York, 2003, pp. 142, 288, no. 84, ill. pp. 140–41 (color).

Swantje Karich. "Der Schwerarbeiter im Abendschein." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (October 8, 2011), ill. (color).

Ursula Harter in Beckmann and America. Ed. Jutta Schütt. Exh. cat., Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2011, pp. 166–69, no. 68, ill. (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 415, ill. (color).

Sabine Rewald. Max Beckmann in New York. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2016, pp. 27–28, 62, 104–7, 140 n. 83, no. 27, ill. (color, overall and detail).

Kathryn Calley Galitz The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 528, ill. (color), colorpl. 461.



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