Max Beckmann’s Temptation is an oil on canvas painting, measuring 199 x 170 cm. Displayed in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, Germany, the artwork is a reinvented version of religious triptychs, presented as an allegory of contemporary humanity. The painting was created in 1936-37 during a time of radical changes both in art and history.
The central panel depicts the artist himself shackled by sensuality and desire. This theme of imprisonment and quest for spiritual freedom is frequently present in Beckmann’s work. The tormented family portrayed epitomizes the New Objectivity art movement which rejected abstract art forms and instead became known for its gritty subjects and socio-political themes.
Beckmann famously painted self-portraits as well as other characters such as actors, cabaret singers, heroes, and thugs. His world reflects his own experiences but with larger implications beyond just his personal narrative. Overall, Temptation presents an introspective view into Beckmann’s psyche while also encapsulating a larger societal critique through its use of allegory and portraiture.