Artworks
Self-Portrait in Tuxedo
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jtucker's picture

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This right here is the look of a bona fide boss. Max Beckmann exudes confidence, power, and even borders on arrogance in this self-portrait.

But then again, it is pretty hard to not be smug when you look this dapper in a three-piece suit.

This is one of nearly forty self-portraits Beckmann created throughout his life. While this may sound like the behavior of a narcissist, we should cut Mr. Beckmann some slack. He didn’t exactly have the easiest life. During his time as a medic in World War I, he saw the carnage caused by the depravity of the human race. Subsequently he experienced a mental breakdown, which upon recovery gave him the inspiration that would fuel the rest of his artistic career. From there on out, Beckmann used his art to explore the inner self.

This painting was created during the height of his career. Things were going great. He had received recognition as an artist, was given a prestigious teaching position in Frankfurt, and museums across Europe were collecting his art. The man was obviously just jamming through life and wanted to show the world how debonair he had become. What better way to do that than to don your finest attire and pose for a portrait? Sadly for Beckmann, things were about to take a change for the worst.

It turns out that being a modernist artist in a Germany on the brink of the Nazi regime was not exactly ideal. With the rise of Hitler came the downfall of modern and progressive art. The Nazi government soon rejected Beckmann’s art, revoked his teaching position, and confiscated 590 paintings of his from museums around Europe. This painting in particular was seized from the National Gallery of Berlin and sold abroad in 1937.

Many people criticize Beckmann’s art for being too dark and lacking in humor, but if life beat you down as hard as it did Beckmann, I bet you would you'd be a little depressed, too. Luckily, most of his work survived the reign of the Nazis and can still be viewed in collections all over the world today. And most importantly, we can still enjoy this eye candy. Who doesn't love a man in a tux?