Max Beckmann’s artwork, Family Picture, painted in 1920, depicts his family shortly after World War I. The painting shows a middle-class family in Frankfurt, which was the birthplace of Beckmann. The artist was a German Expressionist whose work reflected the agonies of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Despite his success as an artist, Beckmann’s work was labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis.
The scene in Family Picture portrays four figures seated at a table with somber expressions. It is interesting to note that Beckmann associated himself with the New Objectivity movement which opposed introverted emotionalism of Expressionism that he himself represented earlier on. This artwork expresses realism with its restrained use of color and lack of sentimentality or abstraction common to other movements like Expressionism.
Many of Beckmann’s paintings have references to Nazi brutalities and historical suffering reflecting his own personal experiences escaping Nazi Germany by emigrating firstly to Amsterdam then eventually settling down in America. His painting has been documented historically as it can reveal insight into German attitudes towards social structures just after world war one ended.