* Images formed by the insanity and horror of the Nazi era, combined with texts from the Book of Revelation
im vierten jahr des zweiten weltkrieges, als gesichte des apokalytischen sehers grauenvolle wirklichkeit wurden, ist dieser druck entstanden.
[This print was created in the fourth year of the Second World War, when prophecies of the apocalyptic seer became horrific reality.]
Max Beckmann’s closing words (at the same time colophon) of his work Illustrations for Apokalypse.
The painter Max Beckmann (1884 – 1950) fled to Amsterdam in 1937, since the National Socialist regime had imposed a professional ban on him as a "degenerate artist". Under the impression of the cruelty of the Second World War, he created 27 Illustrations for Apokalypse in Amsterdam in the years 1941 and 1942. He was inspired by his friend Georg Hartmann, who owned the type foundry Bauer’sche Gießerei in Frankfurt a.M., which was widely known at the time. Out of the 27 printed lithographies Beckmann probably additionally coloured only five with watercolours personally.
Since he was ostracised by the NS regime, it was of course impossible to publish Beckmann's work officially. However, the artist and his friend found a way: Beckmann’s drawings were smuggled from Amsterdam to Frankfurt with the help of friends. There, they were printed together with Luther’s text on the Book of Revelation in 1943, still in the middle of the war.
Beckmann and Hartmann managed to avoid censorship by the Nazi authorities by printing an official run of only 24 specimens of the work. The censorship authority checked printed books only starting at 25 copies.
The image shows one of the 27 drawings from Max Beckmann’s Illustrations for Apokalypse. The call number is 2 L.sel.III 151. "L.sel." stands for "Libri Selecti" = the "artists’ books" of the BSB. This artist’s book by Max Beckmann is provided for free download by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in its Digital Collections under the licence CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.
- Do you wish to zoom into the picture or download it?
- Do you wish to view the complete Apokalypse work by Beckmann?
- Do you wish to learn more about the thematic field of "artists’ books"? Follow this link to the (virtual) exhibition ► SHOWCASE – Artists’ books from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek of 2017/2018
- The ► BSB web page on the topic of "Artists’ books" also provides a good overview.