Still life with candles and mirror (1930) by Max Beckmann

Still life with candles and mirror - Max Beckmann - 1930

Artwork Information

TitleStill life with candles and mirror
ArtistMax Beckmann
Art MovementExpressionism

About Still life with candles and mirror

The artwork “Still life with candles and mirror” was created by Max Beckmann in 1930. Beckmann, an influential figure within the Expressionist movement, masterfully composed this artwork in the still life genre. The painting presents a rich tapestry of ordinary objects imbued with emotional intensity and symbolic meaning, characteristic of the Expressionist style.

In the painting, viewers are presented with a scene comprising various objects arranged on a surface that suggest the intimacy of an indoor setting. Dominating the central portion of the artwork are three candles, two of which are standing in their holders while the third one lies horizontally, intersecting the upright pair. The candles exhibit signs of use, with wax dripped down their sides, evoking a sense of time passing.

Behind the candles, a mirror reflects their form, creating an intriguing play with perspective and adding depth to the composition. A newspaper lies in front of the candles, partially folded with its text indecipherable, hinting at the transient nature of current affairs compared to the enduring qualities of art. A dark jug or vase also occupies the space beside the candles, its simple form and muted color serving as a contrast to the vibrant red drapery in the background, which introduces a dynamic element to the composition through its sweeping folds.

In creating this work, Max Beckmann employed a palette that is both vivid and earthy, typical of the Expressionist inclination to use color expressively rather than realistically. The bold application of paint and the distortion of forms and space for emotional effect are indicative of Beckmann’s desire to convey more than mere visual replication, delving into deeper themes of existence and perception. Overall, the artwork encapsulates the quintessential Expressionist focus on representing the inner world and subjective experiences through art.

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