All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Heather McPherson

Advisory Committee Members

Cathleen Cummings

Mindy Nancarrow

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Max Beckmann came of age when the art world was rapidly changing in the early twentieth century. Beckmann did not fall into any one artistic movement and was often at odds with his contemporaries. Because of these factors it is difficult to discuss his influences without hyper-focusing on just one influence as a way to explain his artistic progression and style. The scholarship has tended to place specific chronological frames around parts of Beckmann's work and focus on just one influence in isolation. Beckmann's influences need to be viewed in a more holistic continuous fashion. This thesis examines the most significant influences on Beckmann's art and considers how they operated as a continuum. Beckmann's engagement with past art, his relationship to his contemporaries, and World War I all played an important role and impacted his art. Beckmann drew from many influences to create his art. Chapter one reconsiders the influence of past art which scholars have isolated and associated with particular periods in his career. Chapter two examines Beckmann's complicated relationship with modern art movements. At first he resisted the art of his contemporaries, but eventually gained his greatest success when he allowed himself to be aligned with contemporary trends. Chapter three examines the impact World War I had on Beckmann's work and how it provided a powerful visual stimulus for a man who already had a proclivity for representing disasters. My thesis will build upon current scholarship by breaking down the compartmentalization that has dominated Beckmann scholarship. By placing equal emphasis on the influences of past and contemporary artistic movements as well as World War I and the socio-historical situation, I will shown that Beckmann drew upon a wide range of influences in forging his individual artistic style and pursuing his goal of capturing human suffering. Therefore, to place undue emphasis on just one influence does Beckmann's art and goals a great disservice.

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