Max Beckmann - Die Straße - image-1

Lot 35 D

Max Beckmann - Die Straße

Auction 1187 - overview Cologne
03.12.2021, 18:00 - Evening Sale - Modern and Contemporary Art
Estimate: 200.000 € - 300.000 €
Result: 250.000 € (incl. premium)

Max Beckmann

Die Straße

Oil on canvas 168 x 118 cm Framed. Monogrammed, dedicated and dated 'HBSL 11' [Herr Beckmann seiner Liebsten] in black lower right.

“I am waiting for the rip from above in the grey ceiling, through which I will be able to see into the infinite” (Max Beckmann, 1903, cited in: Max Beckmann. Frühe Tagebücher, Munich 1985, p. 16).
With mastery and a great atmospheric density, Max Beckmann has staged the urban space between a delicate transparency and a leaden gravity in this important early work.
In 1911 Beckmann painted “Die Straße”, his first pure cityscape. Hemmed in between two sheer walls of buildings, it presents itself to viewers with an oppressive emptiness and is only inhabited by a small group of people in the foreground. A city seems to have been turned inside out, as a paradoxical concavity, an uncanny stage. If we compare the painting with “Der Kaiserdamm” (Göpel 142) from the same year, it becomes clear just how large a step Beckmann took with the present work: it is not so much the depiction of the urban milieu but the deserted street between the towering tenements that conveys the atmosphere of the work. Here, for the first time, the artist has chosen an elevated angle of view, which makes the scenery appear even more claustrophobic and the depicted people even more tiny and forsaken. The boldness of the individual form reveals itself not just through comparisons with the landscape paintings that artists like Kirchner or Kandinsky were painting during those years.
Relative to his contemporaries, Max Beckmann's treatment of the landscape motif is distinguished by a specific dialectic based on a confrontation between the interior and exterior. Within this context, Beckmann's exploration of humanity's inner nature always takes place parallel to an outwardly directed analysis of the real world and its manifestations. (see Jutta Hülsewig-Johnen, Magie der Realität. Max Beckmanns Erscheinung der Landschaftsmalerei, in: exh. cat. Max Beckmann. Landschaft als Fremde Kunsthalle Bielefeld/Kunstforum Wien 1998/1999, pp. 33 ff). Even if Beckmann, as his journal entry reveals, waited in vain for the “rip in the ceiling” cited at the outset - the illuminating flash of the great storm - we nonetheless find more in his art than the pale reflection of a lost universal unity of nature and cosmos. Instead, his works achieve a complex interrogation of a world faced with radical upheavals.
Its inclusion in prominent exhibitions underscores the museum-level quality of this exceptional, large-format early work. After its completion the artist dedicated it, as “Mr Beckmann, to his most beloved”, to no one less than his wife Minna.

Catalogue Raisonné

Göpel 151


Studio of the artist; Minna Beckmann-Tube, Berlin/Gauting; Peter Beckmann, Berlin/Gauting/Ohlstadt/Murnau; Private possession, Augsburg; Private possession, Cologne; Galerie Günther Franke, Munich (1973); Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 2 June 1977, Auktion 222 Moderne Kunst, lot 86; Private collection, Hesse


Hans Martin Freiherr von Erffa, Erhard Göpel, Blick auf Beckmann, Munich 1962, p. 98 with full-page ill. no. 32; Kulturkreis im Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (ed.), Jahresring 63/64. Beiträge zur deutschen Literatur und Kunst der Gegenwart, Stuttgart 1963, p. 48 with full-page colour ill.; Sarah O'Brien-Twohig, Die Hölle der Großstadt, in: Max Beckmann - Retrospektive, Munich 1984, p. 94; Christian Lenz, Bilder der Landschaft 1900 - 1916, in: Max Beckmann - Retrospektive, p. 119


Stuttgart 1946 (Staatsgalerie), Max Beckmann. Grafik [apart from 111 prints, 4 paintings and 3 drawings were also exhibited], no. 4; Munich 1952 (Galerie Günther Franke), Max Beckmann. Werke der Frühzeit, cat. without no.; Bremen/Braunschweig 1953 (Kunsthalle/Kunstverein), Max Beckmann 1884 - 1950. Gedächtnisausstellung. Werke aus 5 Jahrzehnten, cat. no. 29 (titled "Vorstadtstraße" and dated 1913); Würzburg 1956 (Städtische Galerie), Max Beckmann 1884 - 1950. Gedächtnisausstellung, cat. no. 23; Munich 1984 (Haus der Kunst), Max Beckmann - Retrospektive, p. 119, ill. no. 10