Max Beckmann was witty and inventive when knocking his rivals. Works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky he tauntingly nicknamed “Gauguin carpets”, “Picasso chessboards” and “Sibero-Bayovarian piety posters”. Before the First World War, Berlin offered plenty of opportunities to see works by the international avant-garde at Secession exhibitions or in galleries. Beckmann resisted these variations on modernism, rejecting them as ornamental and superficial and fighting back with his own monumental history paintings, forged in an Impressionist spirit. He failed, however, to win over either the general public or the critics.

He probably saw his greatest rival in the French artist Henri Matisse, whose new style exerted a huge influence internationally, including in Berlin: “Woke up late à cause de sparkling wine,” Beckmann wrote in his diary in 1909. “Then in the afternoon, to the Salon Cassirer […]. Paintings by Matisse and Berneis. The Matisse paintings displeased me extremely. One shameless impertinence after the next. Why don’t people simply make cigarette posters!"

There is only one week left until the exhibition Max Beckmann and Berlin opens. Welcome to all aficionados of classical modernism!

Read more stories about Max Beckmann here.


Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts

Alte Jakobstraße 124–128
10969 Berlin Germany

Tel +49 (0)30-789 02-600
Fax +49 (0)30-789 02-700

Opening hours

Wednesday–Monday 10 am–6 pm

Closed on 24.12. and 31.12.

Floor plan

PDF Floor Plan