In an era in which painting was being redefined at every turn, German artist Max Beckmann
approached the medium with unwavering resolve. Like many early 20th-century vanguards, he found affinities with non-conformist, avant-garde groups, in his case the Berlin Secession and the Expressionists
. What set him on his own course, however, was that he spoke out lucidly and critically about each circle. Dead-set on pursuing his own vision, in 1913 he even seceded from the Secession, founding the “Free Secession” along with Max Liebermann
, Lovis Corinth
, Max Slevogt, and Paul Cassirer. Throughout his multi-decade career, he lived in many cities: Leipzig (where he was born in 1884), Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris (in exile), Amsterdam (also in exile), St. Louis, Missouri, and, finally, New York, where he died in 1950. But perhaps no city is as emblematic of his work as Berlin, about which, in the years following World War I, he produced two of his most famous print portfolios.