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NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art: Max Beckmann’s Beginning

NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art: Max Beckmann’s Beginning

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NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art: Max Beckmann’s Beginning
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Max Beckmann (German, 1884-1950)
Oil on canvas; H. 69, W. 125-1/2 in. (175.3 x 318.8 cm)

Born in Leipzig, Germany, Max Beckmann enrolled at the Weimar Academy of Arts in 1899 and between 1903 and 1904 traveled to Paris, Geneva, and Florence. Before the age of thirty, he was successful as an artist and financially secure. His paintings of the time, inspired by Impressionism, attracted clients, and he exhibited widely in Europe during the teens and 1920s. Following World War I his work changed dramatically in reaction to the horrors he had seen. At first, he focused on biblical scenes, but during the 1920s he realized more contemporary allegories and painted devastatingly realistic portraits and figure paintings that were associated with the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Realism) group, with whom he exhibited in 1925 but never formally joined. He saw the world as a tragedy of man’s inhumanity to man and saw life as a carnival of human folly. His work remained intense and allegorical throughout his life, but after the mid-1920s his style of painting changed to include Expressionistic brushwork and brighter colors. With the rise to power of the National Socialist regime in Germany, Beckmann and his work came under attack. In 1933 he was dismissed from his teaching position at the Academy in Frankfurt, and in 1937 his paintings were included in a Nazi-sponsored exhibition of "degenerate art." Beckmann fled Germany in 1937 for Amsterdam and remained there for the next ten years. In 1947 he left for the United States where he died in 1950.

The theme that connects the three panels of "Beginning," the most autobiographical of Beckmann’s ten triptychs, is a childhood dream. The central panel shows a playroom where a little boy in military costume brandishes a sword as he mightily rides a rocking horse. His Puss ‘n Boots doll hangs upside down behind him, presumably slayed by his weapon. The noise he makes has alarmed his parents (seen at the left near the ladder), who have climbed up to inspect his attic kingdom. More prominently placed is the figure of a redheaded woman who reclines seductively, blowing blue bubbles from a pipe. Squeezed between the boy and his fantasy is an old grandmother reading a newspaper. To the left and right, on separate panels, Beckmann painted other memories from his childhood a hurdy-gurdy grinder and a classroom with teacher and students.

When this work was first exhibited in New York in 1870, contemporary critics focused on Homer’s technical shortcomings, his subject matter, and the lack of propriety in the bathers’ costumes. The discomforting character of the painting, however, went unnoticed by all but a few. Three women bathers, physically close yet estranged and anonymous, are represented with a little dog on a beach. A distant sailboat, birds in flight, and small figures on the shore at the left , add minute, anecdotal notes of interest to an otherwise desolate scene. The unembellished starkness of the image, and the harsh light and long shadows intensify the disquieting quality of the painting.

Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967 (67.187.53a-c)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s permanent collection contains more than two million works of art from around the world. It opened its doors on February 20, 1872, housed in a building located at 681 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Under their guidance of John Taylor Johnston and George Palmer Putnam, the Met’s holdings, initially consisting of a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 mostly European paintings, quickly outgrew the available space. In 1873, occasioned by the Met’s purchase of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot antiquities, the museum decamped from Fifth Avenue and took up residence at the Douglas Mansion on West 14th Street. However, these new accommodations were temporary; after negotiations with the city of New York, the Met acquired land on the east side of Central Park, where it built its permanent home, a red-brick Gothic Revival stone "mausoleum" designed by American architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mold. As of 2006, the Met measures almost a quarter mile long and occupies more than two million square feet, more than 20 times the size of the original 1880 building.

In 2007, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was ranked #17 on the AIA 150 America’s Favorite Architecture list.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967. The interior was designated in 1977.

National Historic Register #86003556

LIM Eng with client in Kampot
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Since 1993, Lim Eng’s worked for Cambodia Trust as a community development worker.

Based in Phnom Penh, she travels daily to Kandal and Kampot province to directly support persons with disabilities; by enabling access to physical rehabilitation, education, training and small business development she helps them acquire the skills to create sustainable independent lives.

Lim Eng, a survivor, lost a leg in a landmine accident in 1983. She is very popular with clients and her great passion and personality make her a positive role model demonstrating daily what can be achieved by persons with disabilities.

Lim Eng, gets a great deal from her job helping others,

“Some day’s when I feel sad, I go to work and meet clients and they make me feel happy; I love my job”

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