African performers holding instruments and spear; woman dancing in patterned veil; three men sitting at bottom shown from back and watching performance; number nine embossed into lower center of window mat

© Artists Rights Society %28ARS%29%2C New York %2F VG Bild-Kunst%2C Bonn

"Negro Dance" from "Jahrmarkt", 1921 (published 1922)

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In "Jahrmarkt" ("Annual Fair"), Max Beckmann imagines the world as a traveling carnival teeming with an eclectic cast of actors, dancers, and circus entertainers who perform in the theater of life. Beckmann casts himself as a carnival barker in the series’ opening plate, ringing a small bell to announce the show, and cajoling viewers to enter the Circus Beckmann, a curious realm of outsiders and misfits. Many of the protagonists are friends and acquaintances of the artist; he even includes his wife Minna in the series, who famously appears along with Beckmann balancing on a tightrope. As the scenes of the portfolio unfold, a pageant of players takes the stage: a tall man, a sharpshooter, a snake charmer, exotic dancers, musicians, and other circus entertainers perform in succession. In one plate from the series, Beckmann presents a carousal crowded with a diverse lot of humanity, an apt metaphor for the apparent aimlessness of life. The series was inspired in part by Beckmann’s visits to the Prater, a Viennese amusement park, where he observed the performers and visitors and sketched them from life. Justly celebrated for its incisive observations on the human condition, "Jahrmarkt" is a brilliant example of Beckmann’s mature graphic style and seminal publication of German Expressionism.

Details
Title
"Negro Dance" from "Jahrmarkt"
Artist Life
1884–1950
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2014.124.9
Provenance
Private collection, USA; Sale, Galerie Kornfeld, Berne, Switzerland, sale 219, part 1, June 20, 1997, no. 12]; private collection, Germany and Washington, D.C.; [C.G. Boerner, New York until 2008, sold to Harrison]; Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison, Wayzata, Minn. (2008-2014; given to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Hofmaier 199 IIBa; Glaser 174; Gallwitz 171
Curator Approved

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African performers holding instruments and spear; woman dancing in patterned veil; three men sitting at bottom shown from back and watching performance; number nine embossed into lower center of window mat

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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