A Finding Aid to the Max Beckmann papers, 1917-1954, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.beckmax
Dates:
1917-1954
Languages:
Multiple languages
The collection is in English, French and German.
Physical Description:
1.4 linear feet
Repository:
The papers of painter and educator Max Beckmann measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1917 to 1954. The collection documents Beckmann's art career in Germany as well as New York and includes biographical material, correspondence, printed material and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter and educator Max Beckmann measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1917 to 1954. The collection documents Beckmann's art career in Germany as well as New York and includes biographical material, correspondence, printed material and photographs.
Biographical material consists of an art class student register, art organization membership card, bibliography, customs forms for a pet, exhibition price lists, and assorted travel identification documents.
Correspondence is with universities, museums and galleries regarding teaching positions, lectures, exhibitions and art sales. There are also numerous letters and telegrams with his wife Mathilde.
Printed material includes clippings, catalogs, postcards, and miscellany.
Photographs are of Max Beckmann, family, friends, exhibition installations, and houses. Most of the series consists of photographic prints, but there are also a few negatives. Many of the photographs are annotated in German.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as four series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1939-1954 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1950 (Boxes 1-2; 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Printed Material, circa 1937-1950 (Box 2; 4 folders)
Series 4: Photographs, 1917-1950 (Box 2; 7 folders)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Max Beckmann (1884-1950) was a painter and educator who was born and educated in Germany and based in New York after World War II.
Max Beckmann was born in 1884 in Leipzig, Germany. He studied art at the Weimar-Saxon Grand Ducal Art Academy from 1900 to 1902 and graduated with honors. During World War I, he volunteered as a medical orderly from 1914 t0 1915, an experience that haunted him and deeply impacted his artwork. Beckmann's art is considered part of the German New Objectivity movement.
In 1925, Beckmann's first marriage to Minna Tube ended in divorce, and he married Mathilde von Kaulbach. That same year he began teaching art at the Städelschule Academy of Fine Art in Frankfurt. By the late 1920s he had several major exhibitions in museums and galleries in Germany and Switzerland, had his first exhibition in the US (1926), and his paintings were acquired by the National Gallery in Berlin.
When Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and the Nazis came to power, marking the end of the Weimar Republic, modern art was quickly suppressed and derisively referred to as "degenerate art." Consequently, Beckmann lost his teaching job at the Frankfurt Art Academy and several of his paintings were included in the Degenerate Art or Entartete Kunst exhibition (1937) in Munich. Shortly thereafter, Beckmann left Germany and never returned to the country again.
Beckmann and his wife Mathilde settled in Amsterdam, where they stayed for approximately ten years. Beckmann continued to paint during this time. After the end of World War II, Beckmann immigrated to the United States where he taught, painted, and regularly exhibited his work. He taught art at Washington State University in St. Louis, Missouri, for a time and then became an art professor at the Brooklyn Museum's Art School in New York. Max Beckmann died in 1950.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
The collection is available on microfilm reels 1213-1214, 1237, and 1340-1341. The microfilm is available for interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the material on microfilm.
Processing Information
The collection received a preliminary level of arrangement after donation and was microfilmed on reels 1340-1341. The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno in 2018.
Separated Materials
Mathilde Q. Beckmann loaned materials for microfilming in 1977. Originals of loaned material; including ten personal diaries of Max Beckmann and three notebooks containing lists of works, sketches, and some daily entries of activities and observations; were returned to Mathilde Beckmann after microfilming and were not subsequently donated. Loaned material is available on reels 1213-1214 and 1237 but is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Author
Rihoko Ueno
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Mathilde Q. Beckmann, the artist's widow, loaned diaries and notebooks for microfilming in 1977 and these were subsequently all returned to her. The Max Beckmann papers and material listed in this finding aid were donated to the Archives of American Art by Mathilde Q. Beckmann in 1983.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Preferred Citation
Max Beckmann papers, 1917-1954. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Max Beckmann Archive in Munich, Germany also holds papers of Max Beckmann including correspondence, clippings, photographs and artifacts.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Germany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Germany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beckmann, Max, 1884-1950 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beckmann, Mathilde Q. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/