new-york

Max Beckmann

Grace Borgenicht Gallery

This uneven little exhibition didn’t give us the best of Max Beckmann, but did reveal why he is attractive to a number of young “expressionist” painters, as well as the difficulties of his development after he came to the United States. An aura of danger—central to their sensuality—surrounds Beckmann’s figures; densely real, they and the picture space yet become mysteriously abstract by reason of the claustrophobic way the one is crowded into the other. A beautiful example of this is Woman with Cat, 1945, in which a bulky, semiclad girl, her crouching pose making her all the more erotically vulnerable, is like a bone lodged in the throat of space which is the picture. One constantly has a sense of vertigo looking at a Beckmann work: solid figures are poised over a narrow abyss of space, which becomes symbolic of the infernal dailiness of the world, consuming us all. The concentration of

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