Self-Portrait in Tuxedo (1927) by Max Beckmann

Self-Portrait in Tuxedo - Max Beckmann - 1927

Artwork Information

TitleSelf-Portrait in Tuxedo
ArtistMax Beckmann
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions54 1/2 x 37 3/4 in.
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationBusch–Reisinger Museum (Harvard Art Museums), Cambridge, MA, US

About Self-Portrait in Tuxedo

The artwork entitled “Self-Portrait in Tuxedo” is an oil on canvas piece created by the artist Max Beckmann in 1927. It is an exemplar of the Expressionist movement, measuring 54 1/2 x 37 3/4 inches. This self-portrait genre piece is housed at the Busch–Reisinger Museum, which is part of the Harvard Art Museums located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

In the artwork, the artist presents himself in formal attire, clad in a tuxedo that suggests a sense of occasion or significance. Beckmann is centrally positioned against a background that is sparse and lightly textured, which draws attention primarily to his figure. His gaze seemingly confronts the viewer, characterized by focused and piercing eyes that reflect intensity or self-scrutiny. The artist’s face is modeled with sharp contrasts of light and shadow, contributing to the dramatic effect typical of Expressionism.

Beckmann’s hands are of particular interest, appearing expressive and deliberately positioned. The right hand is hanging by his side while the left is poised in a more pronounced and perhaps symbolic gesture. The color palette is relatively muted, with the black of the tuxedo providing a stark contrast to the paler shades of the backdrop and the skin tones. The brushwork is visible and expressive, allowing the viewer to sense the artist’s emotional engagement with the canvas.

Overall, the self-portrait is a powerful testament to Beckmann’s identity as an artist and his mastery of Expressionist techniques, which prioritize the conveyance of emotional experience over realistic depiction.

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