Monday, October 17, 2016

Max Beckmann's Manual Labor

by Drew Martin
If you can tell a lot about a person by his or her hands then you can tell even more about an artist by the way he or she depicts them. The hands in Max Beckmann's paintings caught my attention tonight at the preview of his show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a way, the hands are a summary of the paintings, microcosms unto themselves. They not only capture the style of each specific work, but they are manifestations of how he feels towards the subject. They are typically not the delicate instruments with which we manage our most dexterous tasks but rather: meaty gloves, fleshy pistols, arthritic claws, and sometimes so fine that you want to reach into the painting and hold them.