27 June, 2007

The Apocalyps of Max Beckmann

The idea was to publish a book in limited edition containing the full text of the Apocalypse (the Greek word apokalysis means disclosure or revelation) in Luther’s translation, with Beckmann’s lithographs as illustrations. It was a dangerous undertaking during wartime.

Beckmann designed the lithographs in his attic studio on the Rokin and the designs were then smuggled to Frankfurt where the lithographs were printed.

A number of series were secretly brought back to Amsterdam where Beckmann himself painted them in in water colours. A total of 24 numbered and 10 unnumbered copies of the book were published, since a publisher was allowed to issue a maximum of 24 copies of a book without needing the approval of the authorities.


The lithographs shown in the museum are the original proofs, and as such they are regarded as the ‘primary copy’. They were painted in water colours in the spring of 1942 by Beckmann’s own hand and were smuggled from Amsterdam to Frankfurt to serve as models for the colouring of the lithographs that were to be bound in the books. The proofs remained in the possession of the last artistic director of the printing house until 2002. Actually their existence had been forgotten until they were sold at auction after the director’s death. A masterpiece was rediscovered!

April 6 - August 19, 2007

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