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Record auction in Germany for a portrait of Beckmann in sight

A self-portrait by Max Beckmann, one of the great personalities of German Expressionism, will be auctioned in Berlin next Thursday. His price could climb to a record amount for Germany: 30 million euros.

The self-portrait yellow-pink, which is considered a masterpiece and has been privately owned since its creation in 1943, shows the artist during his exile in the Netherlands after fleeing Germany from the Nazis.

Gifted to his wife Mathilde, nicknamed Quappi, who kept it until her death in 1986, this painting remained in a Swiss private collection for decades and has not been shown publicly since the mid-1990s.

“No comparable work of art has been auctioned in Germany since 1945,” says Micaela Kapitzky, director and shareholder of the Berlin Maison Grisebach, who is responsible for the sale.

According to Grisebach, it could cost between 20 and 30 million euros, the highest estimate for a painting sold in Germany to date. Private collectors, museums and other institutions around the world have expressed interest in acquiring art in a booming art market in Germany.

During his lifetime, Beckmann (1884-1950) was successful in Germany until the Nazis labeled his art “degenerate” and removed it from German museums in 1937. Increasingly threatened, Beckmann left his homeland and went into exile in Amsterdam, where he lived for a decade before moving to the United States.

For Beckmann, exile in the Netherlands was marked by both relief at fleeing the Nazis and frustration, which is reflected in his works, Ms. Kapitzky analyzed in an interview with AFP.

Unlike many of his Netherlandish paintings, which are dominated by dark tones, his self-portrait is bathed in warmer colors. What emerges is an impression of stubbornness mixed with defiance.

Beckmann died of a heart attack at the age of 66 on his way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where his self-portrait in a blue jacket is on display.

His works by Beckmann, who is now regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, have experienced an enormous increase in value in recent decades. His painting Hell of the Birds, a grim allegory of the Third Reich, was sold at auction in 2017 for £36 million (CHF47 million at the time), a record price for German Expressionism at the time.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats/afp

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