Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Beckett on Beckmann

I'm midway through an excellent book about Max Beckmann, Beckmann and the Self, by Sister Wendy Beckett. I so enjoyed Sister Wendy's BBC and PBS art history series back in the 90's, so this book popped out at me while I was perusing the MECA library selves (Freudian typo - meant to write shelves - good one! :^) shelves recently. I love her insights - she actually meditates in front of images of artwork before writing about a piece. And I adore Beckmann's self-portraits, so this book seemed like a double header (no pun intended:^) !
Here's a sampling of Sister Wendy, an excerpt from the book regarding the top image, Beckmann's Self-Portrait with Saxophone:
"...painted in Paris when Beckmann was riding the crest of his wave. He felt he could encompass contradictions, wear an acrobat's tights and an aesthete's quilted dressing gown, and still be effortlessly dominant. The saxophone, uniquely, may not represent music and its power to engorge all sadness and transform it, but modern life. He holds the instrument low, sub-duing it as it curls animal-like around his body. The saxophone resembles nothing more than a piteous snake, a mini-dragon, and Beckmann, its St George, wrestling the animal power to his purposes. It is a splendid image of a man at rest with his own superiority."


Katherine said...

Thank you for posting these Beckmanns. It was so great to see them again. He is the man! I have heard wonderful stories of what he was like as a painting teacher.

Begnaud said...

I assumed Samuel Beckett, but Sister Wendy rocks! She can really read a painting.