Max Beckmann’s triptych painting, “The Beginning,” is considered one of his most autobiographical works. The allegorical piece was created during 1932-1950, with the first draft dating back to October 1946.
It reflects Beckmann’s growing anxiety towards the cruelty fostered by the rise of the Nazis and explores themes of war, assault, rape, and tragedy channelling his experiences from both world wars into symbolic compositions.
“The Beginning” consists of three panels that beckon a sense of organized chaos. It is said that he took his time on every panel in a span from October 1946 to May 16, 1949; resulting in a piece that displays an era of radical changes in both art and history. Each section tells its own story while still fitting seamlessly together as one cohesive narrative.
Beckman’s painting technique combines harsh colors and bold lines with delicate washes applied over them. Although abstract in style, each element symbolizes something specific: In particular, women represented the casualties of war due to violence upon their gender.