Self-Portrait as a Nurse (1915) by Max Beckmann

Self-Portrait as a Nurse - Max Beckmann - 1915

Artwork Information

TitleSelf-Portrait as a Nurse
ArtistMax Beckmann
Art MovementVerism

About Self-Portrait as a Nurse

The artwork “Self-Portrait as a Nurse” was created by Max Beckmann in 1915. Beckmann, known for his association with the Verism movement, presents himself in the genre of self-portraiture. As a Verist artist, Beckmann often depicted unembellished and direct reality in his works, often through the use of sharp detail and satirical elements. This artwork encapsulates a period contextually significant for its time, when the world was engulfed in conflict during World War I.

Examining the artwork, one notices the composition emphasizes Beckmann’s face, which occupies the central region of the canvas, conveying an intense and introspective gaze that meets the viewer directly. The stark realism of Beckmann’s features is characteristic of Verism, highlighting the raw human emotion rather than idealizing the subject. His expression is both somber and penetrating, possibly reflecting on the artist’s experiences or views during the turbulent times of the war.

He is depicted in what appears to be a dark nurse’s uniform adorned with a bright red cross, which instantly draws the eye and symbolizes the role of a nurse during wartime. The use of light and color in the artwork enhances the emotional gravity of the portrayal. The brushwork is loose and expressive, which contributes to the overall impact of the artwork, echoing the tension and psychological complexity of the era. Beckmann’s choice to portray himself as a nurse may be an exploration of identity and the multifaceted nature of roles in society, especially in the face of adversity and the societal upheaval caused by the war.

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