From 1915 to 1933 he taught at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt am Main, now the Städelschule, where he was appointed as a professor in 1929. His paintings became more colorful again in the 1920s. The zeitgeist of the Neue Sachlichkeit was evident in the reduced subjects of his paintings. Beckmann became increasingly interested in mythological content during this period. He divorced his wife after meeting Mathilde von Kaulbach, and the two went on to marry in 1925. He made his new wife one of the most painted and drawn women in the history of art. His fame in Germany reached its peak in 1928 when he was awarded the Reichsehrenpreis Deutscher Kunst (Honorary Empire Prize for German Art) and one of the first comprehensive retrospectives of Beckmann’s work was held at the Kunsthalle Mannheim.
Even before Hitler’s seizure of power in April 1933, Beckmann had already been dismissed from his professorship at the Städelschule. He left Frankfurt in the same year and moved back to Berlin. In 1937, Beckmann’s oeuvre was declared “degenerate.” A number of his works were displayed in the exhibitions of degenerate art that were shown throughout Germany. He emigrated to Amsterdam with his wife that same year. His work in exile is characterized by deeply enigmatic paintings, self-portraits, and some heavily symbolic triptychs with mythological themes.
Although the couple had been applying for a U.S. visa since 1939, they did not receive one until 1947. At the end of September of the same year, the artist began teaching at the College of Art of Washington University in St. Louis. In May 1948 the Saint Louis Art Museum held a major retrospective of Beckmann’s work. At the end of 1949 Max Beckmann accepted a professorship at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York.
Washington University in St. Louis awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1950. By this time, he was already finding it difficult to assert his art against the now popular abstract painting of the postwar period. At the age of sixty-six, Max Beckmann died of a heart attack on December 27, 1950. His tenth triptych, Amazonen (Amazons), remained unfinished. Beckmann’s triptychs are among his most important works of the twentieth century. In addition to his paintings, Max Beckmann also created an extensive oeuvre of printed works.Sources:
• Lebendiges Museum Online: https://www.dhm.de/lemo/biograﬁe/max-beckmann (last accessed: 30/10/2020)
• Elger, Dietmar (1991) EXPRESSIONISMUS, Cologne: Taschen Verlag GmbH