- Gallery Text
Like his large triptych Actors, on view in a gallery on the opposite side of the Calderwood Courtyard, Beckmann’s The Fire takes as its subject Amsterdam during World War II. This small still life focuses on the more mundane challenges of the exile experience. By the winter of 1944/1945, Beckmann’s large studio, a former tobacco storeroom, could no longer be adequately heated for lack of coal. The inspiration for this painting was the new round oven used by the artist in a makeshift space. The temperature, as the artist notes in his diary, was still a brisk “8 degrees Celsius” (about 46ºF).
Thanks to a strong network of supporters during his ten-year exile in Amsterdam (1937–47), Beckmann continued to sell his work abroad, as well as in Germany, despite the strict ban there on the sale of art deemed “degenerate.” This small painting, however, remained with the artist until his death in 1950.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Max Beckmann, German (Leipzig, Germany 1884 - 1950 New York, N.Y., USA)
- The Fire (Small Still Life)
- Other Titles
- Former Title: Still Life with Fire
- Work Type
- Creation Place: Europe, Germany
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on canvas
- 60.3 x 40 cm (23 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.)
framed: 61.7 x 41.5 x 3.2 cm (24 5/16 x 16 5/16 x 1 1/4 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- Signed: l.l.: Beckmann, A.
- Robert Heilbronner, 1953. [Buchholz Gallery, New York, New York], sold; to Alfred Jaretzki, Jr., New York, New York, 1955, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1976.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Alfred Jaretzki, Jr.
- © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
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- Exhibition History
19th- and 20th-Century Paintings and Sculpture from the Museum's Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1980 - 08/31/1980
German Painting 1760-1960: A New Installation, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/1983 - 02/19/1984
32Q: 1500 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Expressionism-Interwar), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 08/10/2016; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 06/03/2021
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