Departure (1932-33) by Max Beckmann

Departure - Beckmann, Max - 1932-33 - 2

Artwork Information

ArtistMax Beckmann
Date1932 - 1935
MediumOil on Canvas
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationThe Museum of Modern Art, New York

About Departure

Max Beckmann’s triptych “Departure” is a powerful artwork that conveys both sin and salvation. This piece was completed in 1935, after Beckmann had been forced to resign from his teaching position in Frankfurt and move to Berlin due to political pressure. The painting is in the format of medieval or Renaissance altarpieces, with a central panel flanked by two side panels. The middle panel is slightly wider than the side panels, creating an immersive experience for the viewer.

The central panel shows a group of individuals leaving on a journey, with one man leading the way while others follow behind him. Meanwhile, the left panel portrays scenes of sin and debauchery – with naked bodies intermingled amidst tables full of food and drink. On the other hand, the right panel shows images of salvation – including an angel guiding souls towards heaven. These scenes demonstrate Beckmann’s view of departure as both a physical and metaphysical experience.

Beckmann’s “Departure” has been described as one of his most important works. It explores themes such as redemption, sacrifice, and humanity’s struggle between good and evil – all through vivid imagery that captures both intimate moments and grand movements alike. Visitors to exhibitions featuring this piece have often marveled at its strikingly stark interior representations which seemingly contrasts with its message about spiritual growth transcendence; making it remarkable not just for its technical beauty but also for its thematic weightiness especially amidst major political upheavals during its conception time period.

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