Comment on Max Beckmann’s Falling Man by Steve:
An exciting painting by Max Beckmann, an artist that I’ve been meaning to look more deeply into for years, but can’t seem to find a good book about him and his painting. It is so good to see how he solved the vertical format with the falling ( diving? ) figure . I have found extreme verticals and elongated horizontal pictures very difficult and try to stay away from them. Some day I may see a landscape that would make a good excuse subject for a panorama painting, but I won’t be searching for it. There are a lot of vertical paintings around my neck of the woods because it’s redwoods country and many artists just can’t resist painting tall pictures of these trees, (Maybe the same can be said about skyscraper paintings by artists living in New York city ). But I’m not going to do it, mainly because it’s impossible to do the trees convincingly like that. They always look like fantastic lost- in-the-clouds illustrations straight out of a Hobbit land book. But to get back to the Beckmann, I love the powerful design and the thick black outlines which magnifies and freezes the incident, catching the figure in mid-fall and making the horror permanent, as if the tragic figure will always be falling and never hit the pavement. It’s also one of those paintings that make me want to paint in a stark expressionistic way. One of my earliest enchantments when I first began studying art history was German expressionism which followed fast on the heels of the Blau Reiter movement which had the painter Jawlensky,…I loved his portraits and landscapes. But I didn’t care for how the Expressionist movement became increasingly poster oriented with primarily political messages. I like prints, but not posters or marquee type illustrations. Lautrec did some great Moulin Rouge advertisements, but they are not my favorite of his works by a long shot. I sense that our new dark age is bringing that kind of bold painting into my mind’s eye , and that I might be seeing ordinary situations in that stark unforgiving way. I shall be on the alert for that, to see if it’s true.