Max Beckmann’s self-portrait with horn is a striking painting that portrays the artist in a prison-like stripe suit, holding a horn as if it were a telescope. This self-portrait marked a significant turning point in Beckmann’s life, as he and his wife had just fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam. The painting was completed in 1938 and is considered one of the greatest works by the German Expressionist artist.
The use of symbols in this painting is evident, such as the horn he holds representing his desire to explore and navigate through darkness. Beckmann presents himself lonely and withdrawn on an island; this may represent isolation from friends or family after fleeing Germany. The colors used are sober but strong, with bold contours that enhance the expressionistic nature of the piece.
Beckmann’s self-portrait evokes the struggles and tribulations of an entire generation during World War II. His use of color, form, and symbols conveys emotions that transcend time period yet remain relevant today. Visitors to exhibitions featuring his work will appreciate not only his mastery of technique but also its ability to express profound human experiences beyond its specific context.