Artwork of the month July

Max Beckmann, Strand mit Booten an der Riviera, 1938, Hilti Art Foundation

Max Beckmann

1884 Leipzig – 1950 New York

Strand mit Booten an der Riviera (Beach with Boats on the Riviera), 1938

Oil on canvas
60.5 × 80 cm
Hilti Art Foundation, Schaan

In August 1938 Beckmann travelled with his friend, collector and patron Stephan Lackner to the French Mediterranean. In the course of their journey they came across the scene pictured in this painting. The exact location is not known but a black-and-white photograph found among the papers of Quappi Beckmann testifies to the fact that the subject matter was not artistic invention but a real site. Beckmann had in fact based his painting on the photograph. In addition to photographs he would occasionally use postcards as source material for his work in the studio. In comparison to the photograph, his composition and subject matter heighten the drama of the scene. Turquoise blue pedal boats are pulled up at the shore, their pointed hulls facing the breakers of an equally turquoise blue sea. Other boats line the shore, among them four sailing boats with masts, as well as buildings and cranes that may be part of a boatyard or a harbour. A few people can be distinguished in the middle distance, and the range of hills marking the horizon line slopes gently down to the sea where the smoke of two steamers billows up into the cloudy, overcast skies.

Beckmann's paintings of the French Riviera between Bandol and Cap Martin give an insight into the sensual and spiritual impressions the exiled artist retained through his encounter with life and landscape on the Mediterranean. They are images of memory, fulfilment and anticipation. Beckmann's reaction to the sea was particularly intense; it was both a real and symbolic space of physical and spiritual unboundedness.

On his first journey after the war with his wife Quappi in March 1947, Beckmann immediately went to Nice on the French Riviera again. In August of that year, they left Europe for good, boarding a ship for the United States, a journey the artist had already wanted to undertake in 1936. He died there in 1950.

Uwe Wieczorek


"Often, very often, I am alone. My studio in Amsterdam, an enormous old tobacco store-room, is again filled in my imagination with figures from the old days and from the new, like an ocean by storm and sun and always present in my thoughts. Then shapes become beings and seem comprehensible to me in the great void and uncertainty of the space which I call God."
Max Beckmann

<b>Max Beckmann, Strand mit Booten an der Riviera, 1938, Hilti Art Foundation</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.