GET UPDATES FROM David Moss

Max Beckmann Painting Breaks Records, Raises Questions

11/07/2017

Paintings commonly raise questions for viewers. But a recently auctioned Max Beckmann painting raises questions about the art market itself. The painting, Hölle der Vögel (Hell of the Birds), was bought from Christie’s for USD $45.8 million by Larry Gagosian, reportedly on behalf of American billionaire Leon Black. At issue is what Gagosian and/ or Black thought they were buying.


Adrien Meyer, a Director at Christie’s, advertised the painting as an anti-Nazi statement, declaring it, “unanimously recognised as the Guernica of Expressionism.” But that opinion is hardly unanimous, and may even be spurious. Beckmann did paint Hölle der Vögel in 1938 after leaving Germany in the wake of being included in the Degenerate Art exhibition, but he declared that same year, “I have never been politically active in any way.”

This painting shows a person being tormented by birds, while a group of people in the background wave at the birds. A half-bird-half-woman hatches from an egg, waving back to the group. In the bottom right corner is a reference to time. There are no overt, irrefutable Nazi references. So we must ask: Would it have doubled the previous Beckmann auction record without the trumped up political context that accompanied its sale? And more importantly: Should any auction house ever claim it possesses the “unanimous” analysis of a work for sale?

Image caption: Max Beckmann (1884-1950), Hölle der Vögel, 1937-38. Oil on canvas. 47⅛ × 63 in (119.7 × 160.4 cm). © DACS 2017 via Christie's

MasterArt - Search now over 15000 works of art from the world's finest art dealers
MasterArt news
MasterArt news
Prepare for Fine Arts Paris
Max Beckmann Painting Breaks Records, Raises Questions
UK to Create National Sculpture Museum of the Imagination
What Stole the Show at Masterpiece London 2017
Parmigianino Export Pits Pound Against Pride
Cambridge Showing Some Swagger
Pilar Abel Defeats Dali DNA Deniers
Meet the Architects Behind the Refurbished NGI
9 Highlight Pieces at Masterpiece London 2017
The Met Appoints News CEO Daniel H. Weiss
Warhol and Television
New Exhibitors Sparkle and Glow at Masterpiece London
The Cape Reimagined: An Exhibition by Burberry at Masterpiece London 2017
Anselm Kiefer at the Hermitage
Christie’s to Auction Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection
Excitement Builds for New V&A Photo Centre
MasterArt at Masterpiece London 2017
The Punk Rock Businessman Behind the $110.5m Basquiat
Art Basel Sues to Protect its Brand
CULTURES and Paris Tableau: Recent Virtual Tours from Fairs on MasterArt VR
Only Weeks Left for Christie’s South Kensington Location
MasterArt VR collaborates with Sotheby's New York to create captivating Virtual Tour for auction
Remembering Laure de Beauvau-Craon
Fifth Version of Rodin's 'Andromeda' Crushes Auction Estimate
Stanley Gibbons Sells Stake in Masterpiece, Further Clarifies Focus
The Met to Mount Epoch-Making Michelangelo Exhibit
Former Environment Minister Named Chairman of LAPADA
New German Cultural Law Chasing Sellers Away
TEFAF Appoints New York Advisors
Precious Diamond Tiara is the Latest Casualty of German Heist
Whitford Fine Art Explores Trans-National Aesthetics
Giacometti at the Tate Modern
Slava Seidel Returns to Munich
Singapore Sends Rybolovlev v. Bouvier to Geneva
Didier Claes Makes Bold Move Across Brussels
Online Art Market Continues to Grow
“Age of Empires” Brings Chinese Classical Period to the Met
Venice Biennale Recognises Carolee Schneemann with Golden Lion
Chaumet Highlights Imperial Splendors Exhibit in Beijing
Michael Kewenig, Giant of German Art Scene, Dies
MasterArt Now On Instagram – Follow Us!
Critical Acclaim for Debut of TEFAF New York Spring
Does the Artist Pension Trust Work?
Ancient Leaders Help Egyptian Tourism Rebound
Purported New Velázquez Fetches Millions at Auction
Art Fraud Insights Releases New Online Fake Detection Tool
8 Must See Pieces at TEFAF New York Spring
19th Century Armoury Transformed for TEFAF New York Spring
Sotheby’s Sets Modest Estimate for Summer Turner Offering
Christie’s Set to Auction Spiegel Collection in May
Nogent-sur-Seine Welcomes Musée Camille Claudel
Pink Star Auction Shifts Global Jewellery Focus to Hong Kong
Examining Maria Theresa Through Her Medals
China Delivers on Promised Ivory Ban
Less than One Month Left to Visit Beyond Caravaggio in Dublin
Recent Advances in Black: Vantablack Version 2
Looking Ahead to TEFAF New York Spring
Uncertainty Regarding the 2017 Art Market
Gold Coin Stolen from Berlin Museum
Christie's Seeks Flexibility With June Cancellations
Asia Week New York 2017 Surpasses Expectations
US$24.5M Still Needed for Protection of Cultural Heritage in War Zones
Olga Picasso at Musée Picasso Paris
David Rockefeller Dead at 101
Centre Pompidou Announces 2nd Attempt at Shanghai Presence
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting - Louvre (22 February - 22 May 2017)
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano - National Gallery, London (15 March to 25 June 2017)
Christie's Hedges on Art Futures
Fixing the Louvre’s Falling Visitor Numbers
Pontormo Painting Spotlights Flaws in Export System
More than 7,000 MasterArt Directories distributed at TEFAF Maastricht 2017
Ahn Kyuchul at Kukje Gallery
Waiting Game for the Getty
Vale David Moss (1945 - 2017)
A fine selection sketched by renowned interior designer Christophe Decarpentrie
MasterArt Catalogues, Discover our new iPad app
Excellent feedback on MasterArt’s Directory of the World’s Leading Art and Antique Dealers
News is buzzing about MasterArt’s exclusive events
MasterArt Directory enthusiastically greeted at Masterpiece London and the Hermitage Benefactors Gala Evening in Saint Petersburg
The best of both worlds at MasterArt
Carré Rive Gauche presents Wild Thing for which MasterArt is a media partner
David Moss, MasterArt’s new Editorial Director
MasterArt will be at TEFAF! Come and visit us at stand 819 in the Business Pavilion, directly across from the Executive Lounge
A Royal Weekend for MasterArt
Partners: