Grim Visions

At his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1931, the daily Le Figaro called painter Max Beckmann "something like a Germanic Picasso." Nobody would hazard such a comparison today, but the magnificent exhibition of Beckmann's work, which opened in September at Paris' Centre Pompidou, is bound to remind viewers what that critic of an earlier age was getting at. Like his Spanish rival, Beckmann was a protean creator with an immense vitality, rich artistic vocabulary and strong sense of mission. If his art has less influence today than Picasso's, it may be because it remained so rooted in the concrete and...

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