Max Beckmann: Boredom, Space and Painting

by Christian Parreno

Love in an animal sense is an illness, but a necessity which one has to overcome. Politics is an odd game, not without danger I have been told, but certainly sometimes amusing. To eat and to drink are habits not to be despised but often connected with unfortunate consequences.To sail around the earth in ninety-one hours must be very strenuous, like racing in cars or splitting the atoms. But the most exhausting thing of all – is boredom.

So let me take part in your boredom and your dreams while you take part in mine which may be yours as well.

To begin with, there has been enough talk about art. After all, it must always be unsatisfactory to try to express one’s deeds in words. Still we shall go on and on, talking and painting and making music, boring ourselves, exciting ourselves, making war and peace as long as our strength of imagination lasts. Imagination is perhaps the most decisive characteristic of mankind. My dream is the imagination of space – to change the optical impression of the world of objects by a transcendental arithmetic progression of the inner being. That is the precept. In principal any alteration of the object is allowed which has a sufficiently strong creative power behind it.

[…]

If the canvas is only filled with two-dimensional conception of space, we shall have applied art, or ornament. Certainly this may give us pleasure, though I myself find it boring as it does not give me enough visual sensation. To transform three into two dimensions is for me an experience full of magic in which I glimpse for a moment that fourth dimension which my whole being is seeking.

[…]

Stars are our eyes and nebulae our beards… we have people’s souls for our hearts. We hide ourselves and you cannot see us, which is just what we want when the skies are red at midday, red in the blackest night. Our torches stretch away without end… silver, glowing red, purple, violet, green-blue and black. We bear them in our dance over the seas and mountains, across the boredom of life.

We sleep and our brains circle in dull dreams.

Full text

Max Beckmann, ‘My Theory of Painting’ in Max Beckmann. Paintings, Paperworks, Graphics. Galerie Thomas, 1938

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