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© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Title: Acrobat on the Trapeze
Date: 1940
Artist: Max Beckmann
German, 1884–1950
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions:
57 3/8 x 35 7/8 in. (145.7 x 91.1 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Morton D. May
Object Number: 852:1983
Place made: Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
Current Location: On View, Gallery 216
Notes:
Beckmann's diaries from Amsterdam recount his numerous visits to cabarets, theaters, and the circus. In this painting, an acrobat in the lofty heights of a circus tent is shown from an improbably close viewpoint. The acrobat crouches on a trapeze and seems to be waiting for the right moment to propel himself back for his next routine. Behind the sturdy figure, which nearly fills the canvas, a second trapeze artist appears in the upper right corner while an audience, suggested by dotted brushwork, fills the middle band of the painting. Beckmann's use of bold black outlines and saturated planes of canary yellow and lush turquoise heighten the scene's energy. To Beckmann, the acrobat's courageous performance evoked the challenges met by every human: "We are all tightrope walkers," he said. "We have the desire to achieve balance and to keep it."
Signed: l.r., in brown-black paint: Beckmann / A 40
Provenance
Max Beckmann (1884-1950), Amsterdam, The Netherlands [1]

- 1946
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York, NY, USA, acquired from the artist [2]

1946 - 1956
Frederick A. P. Zimmermann (1906-1967), New York, NY, purchased from Curt Valentin [3]

1956 - 1983
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Frederick A. P. Zimmermann [4]

1983 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Morton D. May [5]


Notes:
The main source for this provenance is Göpel's catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 547 [Göpel, Erhard and Barbara Göpel. "Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde." Bern: Kornfeld & Cie., 1976]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] Max Beckmann kept lists of most of his paintings which often included the dates that they were worked on and later notes on who purchased them. This painting appears on Beckmann's Amsterdam list. Beckmann notes that he started the painting around August 10 and finished it on August 18, 1940. He later noted that the painting was purchased by Frederick Zimmermann.

[2] According to a handwritten invoice from Frederick Zimmermann to Morton D. May, Zimmermann purchased the painting from Curt Valentin in December of 1946 [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Curt Valentin was Beckmann's dealer and sold works for him on commission.

[3] See note [2].

[4] The purchase of the picture by May from Zimmermann is documented in correspondence and a hand-written invoice dated July 8, 1956 [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[5] Last Will and Testament of M. D. May dated June 11, 1982 [copy, May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 20, 1983.
Exhibition History
Title: Max Beckmann (1964-1965)
Date: May 15, 1964 - November 7, 1965
Venue: The Art Institute of Chicago
Venue: Tate Britain
Venue: Kunstverein Hamburg
Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Venue: Frankfurter Kunstverein
Venue: Museum of Modern Art, New York
Title: Max Beckmann (1951-1952)
Date: December 1, 1951 - January 31, 1952
Venue: Stedelijk Museum
Title: Max Beckmann: 1884-1950
Date: November 22, 1955 - January 8, 1956
Venue: Kunsthaus Zürich
Title: Dix / Beckmann: World as Myth
Date: November 22, 2013 - October 8, 2014
Venue: Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung
Venue: Kunsthalle Mannheim
Title: Modern German Masterpieces
Date: February 22, 1986 - June 21, 1987
Venue: Seattle Art Museum
Venue: San Diego Museum of Art
Venue: Fort Worth Art Museum
Venue: Phoenix Art Museum
Venue: Crocker Art Museum
Venue: North Carolina Museum of Art
Title: Max Beckmann (1956 The Hague)
Date: March 14 - May 7, 1956
Venue: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Title: Max Beckmann: Gemälde 1905-1950
Date: July 21, 1990 - January 13, 1991
Venue: Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Frankfurt
Venue: Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig
Title: Max Beckmann: Meisterwerke 1907-1950
Date: September 21, 1994 - January 8, 1995
Venue: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Title: Expressionisten: Sammlung Morton D. May
Date: September 27, 1968 - September 14, 1969
Venue: Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts
Venue: Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe
Venue: Museum Folkwang
Venue: Kunsthalle Bremen
Venue: Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Venue: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum
Title: Max Beckmann, un peintre dans l'histoire
Date: September 10, 2002 - September 29, 2003
Venue: Centre Georges Pompidou - Musée National d'Art Moderne
Venue: Tate Modern
Venue: Museum of Modern Art, New York
Title: German Expressionist Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May (1960-1963)
Date: November 13, 1960 - January 6, 1963
Venue: The Baltimore Museum of Art
Venue: William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art
Venue: Carnegie Museum of Art
Venue: The Corcoran Gallery of Art
Venue: University of California, Los Angeles
Venue: Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego
Venue: Denver Art Museum
Venue: The Butler Institute of American Art
Venue: Akron Art Museum
Venue: M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Venue: The Art Institute of Chicago
Title: Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May (1960)
Date: February 14 - July 4, 1960
Venue: Pius XII Memorial Library
Title: Max Beckmann (1983)
Date: April 6 - May 1, 1983
Venue: Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale
Title: Ausstellung Max Beckmann (1956 Basel)
Date: January 14 - February 12, 1956
Venue: Kunsthalle Basel
Title: Max Beckmann: A Retrospective Exhibition 1948
Date: May 21, 1948 - August 31, 1949
Venue: City Art Museum of Saint Louis
Venue: University of Colorado at Boulder Museum
Venue: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Venue: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Venue: The Detroit Institute of Arts
Venue: Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums
Venue: The Baltimore Museum of Art
Venue: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Title: Max Beckmann: Paintings from 1940 to 1946
Date: March 31 - April 30, 1947
Venue: Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Title: Max Beckmann In Exile
Date: October 6, 1997 - January 5, 1997
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Title: Max Beckmann: Exile in Amsterdam
Date: April 6, 2007–January 28, 2008
Venue: Van Gogh Museum
Venue: Pinakothek der Moderne
Title: Max Beckmann Oils
Date: January 28 - February 23, 1947
Venue: The Philadelphia Art Alliance
Title: Max Beckmann and Paris
Date: September 25, 1998 - May 9, 1999
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Venue: Kunsthaus Zürich
Title: German Expressionist Paintings from the Collection of Mr. Morton D. May (1967)
Date: September 20 - October 22, 1967
Venue: Portland Art Museum
Title: Some Points of View in Modern Art
Date: February 10 - March 10, 1957
Venue: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Title: Max Beckmann Retrospective (1984)
Date: February 25, 1984 - February 3, 1985
Venue: Neue Nationalgalerie
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Venue: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Venue: Haus der Kunst, München
Title: Max Beckmann zum Gedächtnis: 1884-1950
Date: June - September, 1951
Venue: Charlottenburger Schloss
Venue: Haus der Kunst, München
Title: Center Ring: The Artist, an Exhibition of two Centuries of Circus Art
Date: May 7, 1981 - June 6, 1982
Venue: Milwaukee Art Museum
Venue: The Corcoran Gallery of Art
Venue: Columbus Museum of Art
Venue: New State Museum of Art at Albany
Publication History
Title: Max Beckmann in Exile
Year Published: 1996
Title: Max Beckmann: Paintings from 1940 to 1946
Year Published: 1947
Title: Max Beckmann Oils
Year Published: 1947
Title: Max Beckmann
Author: Peter Selz
Title: Max Beckmann
Publisher: Stedelijk Museum
Title: Max Beckmann 1948
Periodical Title: Bulletin of the City Art Museum of Saint Louis
Author: Perry T. Rathbone
Author: Hanns Swarzenski
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: The Cover
Periodical Title: Journal of the American Medical Association
Author: M. Therese Southgate
Title: Max Beckmann: A Dream of Life
Editor: Zentrum Paul Klee
Title: Modern German Masterpieces
Periodical Title: The Saint Louis Art Museum Bulletin
Author: Charles W. Haxthausen
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Max Beckmann at the Saint Louis Art Museum: The Paintings
Author: Lynette Roth
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publisher: Prestel-Verlag
Title: Museum Reaches International Audiences
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May
Author: M.B. McNamee, S.J.
Title: Max Beckmann: Katalog der Gemälde
Author: Erhard Göpel
Author: Barbara Göpel
Title: Max Beckmann: Exile in Amsterdam
Publisher: Pinakothek der Moderne
Publisher: Van Gogh Museum
Title: Max Beckmann
Year Published: 1956
Title: German Expressionist Painting: The Morton D. May Collection
Periodical Title: Museum News
Edition: December
Year Published: 1969
Title: Het Circus in de Beeldende Kunst
Publisher: Kunstcentrum Haarlem
Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Max Beckmann und die deutschen Expressionisten aus der Sammlung Morton D. May
Publisher: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum
Title: Max Beckmann: Die Triptychen im Städel
Year Published: 1981
Title: Deutsche Expressionisten aus der Sammlung Morton D. May, St. Louis, USA
Publisher: Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Title: Ausstellung Max Beckmann
Publisher: Kunsthalle Basel
Title: The Morton D. May Collection of 20th Century German Masters
Year Published: 1970
Title: De Schilderkunst in een Kritiek Stadium?: Critici in Debate Over Realisme en Abstractie in een Tijd van Wederopbouw en Koude Oorlog 1945-1960
Editor: Jonneke Jobse
Author: J. M. Prange
Title: Expressionisten: Sammlung Morton D. May
Publisher: Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts
Title: Max Beckmann and Paris
Editor: Tobia Bezzola
Editor: Cornelia Homburg
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Max Beckmann
Year Published: 1983
Title: Max Beckmann Self-Portrait with Horn
Author: Jill Lloyd
Publisher: Neue Galerie New York
Title: Max Beckmann: The Self-Portraits
Author: Peter Selz
Title: German Expressionist Paintings From the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Morton D. May
Edition: 2
Year Published: 1960
Title: German Expressionist Paintings from the Collection of Mr. Morton D. May
Year Published: 1967
Title: Max Beckmann zum Gedächtnis: 1884 - 1950
Year Published: 1951
Title: Some Points of View in Modern Art
Year Published: 1957
Title: Center Ring: The Artist, an Exhibition of Two Centuries of Circus Art
Year Published: 1981
Title: Max Beckmann, 1884-1950: Paintings, Drawings, and Graphic Work
Year Published: 1965
Title: Max Beckmann Retrospective
Editor: Carla Schulz-Hoffmann
Editor: Judith Weiss Levy
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Author: James D. Burke
Author: Peter Eikemeier
Title: Max Beckmann: Meisterwerke 1907-1950
Publisher: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Author: Karin von Maur
Title: Max Beckmann: Gemälde 1905-1950
Year Published: 1990
Title: German Expressionist Paintings From the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May
Edition: 1
Year Published: 1960
Title: Max Beckmann in Amerika
Author: Anabelle Kienle
Title: Max Beckmann
Author: Peter Selz
Title: Max Beckmann: Leben im Werk, die Selbstbildnisse
Author: Fritz Erpel
Title: Max Beckmann
Editor: Sean Rainbird
Publisher: Tate Modern
Title: Max Beckmann: 1884 - 1950
Publisher: Kunsthaus Zürich
Title: Max Beckmann: Symbol und Weltbild, Grundriss zu einer Deutung des Gesamtwerkes
Author: Friedhelm W. Fischer
Title: The Expressionist Current in New York’s Avant-Garde: The Paintings of the Ten
Year Published: 1982
Title: Max Beckmann
Year Published: 1949
Title: Max Beckmann: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen
Publisher: Kunstverein Hamburg
Title: Beckmann
Year Published: 2002
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