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Max Beckmann (1884-1950) …a new auction record

A few blogs ago , i argumented that auction records do not justice to the art itself. A record does not automatically mean that the work is of interest or belongs to the best the artist has ever made. But there are of course exceptions. On June 27 Christie’s London  achieved a record for a Max Beckmann painting.   “Hölle der Vögel (Birds’ Hell)” 1937-38 was sold to American art dealer Larry Gagosian for £36,005,000 / $45,834,365 / €40,865,675.

Schermafbeelding 2017-06-29 om 11.46.34

Beckmann’s “visceral response to the rise of the Nazi regime in his native Germany is one of the most striking and important expressionist paintings ever made, because it comments on the political situation in Germany. He painted the painting in his Amsterdam studio. It is filled with symbols  The nude men scratched and mutilated, youth in the background bringing a Hitler salute and the Hell birds guarding the naked man. If ever there was a comment in art on the rise of Nazi Germany , it is this painting. It was part from an American private collection and probably become part of another private collection again and this is a pity because a work as important as Birds’ Hell should be visible to the public.  Is it worth as much money as now paid for. I don’t think so, …….but what an important painting this is.

Beckmann publications are available at

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