Odysseus and Calypso (1943) by Max Beckmann

Odysseus and Calypso - Beckmann, Max - 1943 - 2

Artwork Information

TitleOdysseus and Calypso
ArtistMax Beckmann
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions115.5 x 150 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationKunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
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About Odysseus and Calypso

Max Beckmann, a prominent German painter, printmaker, and draftsman born in 1884, is recognized for his work “Odysseus and Calypso,” a striking painting created in 1943. As an artist associated with Expressionism and New Objectivity movements, Beckmann conveyed bold imagery that challenged traditional artistic conventions. In “Odysseus and Calypso,” he portrays the Greek mythological story of Odysseus’ captivity on the island of Ogygia.

Beckmann’s brushwork in “Odysseus and Calypso” conveys a sense of tension between Odysseus and Calypso as she holds him captive on her island. The thick impasto paint expressionistically depicts the dark rocks surrounding them while specks of bright red signify danger lurking around them. With varied tones within shadows, each element appears three-dimensional with depth to physically place the viewer into the composition.

As seen across many artworks by Beckmann, he incorporates personal experiences within his works. He was affected significantly by the Nazis’ infamous Munich Degenerate Art exhibition held in 1937 where they sanctioned artwork which did not conform to their idealistic standards. This had undoubtedly contributed to his shockingly dark depictions throughout his career as an artist.

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