The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
Beckmann completed this 'Winter Scene' in October, well before the winter of 1930; he was not painting a real scene. This looks like a traditional starting point: a painting conceived as a window on the world. However, Beckmann was not interested in painting nature per se. He wanted to show what is hidden behind visual reality/the visual surface, and in this way penetrate further into reality.
Beckmann’s image of the world changed as a result of the First World War, in which, working as a voluntary nurse, he came across situations where there was no respect for human dignity. He saw life as the existence of a slave and wanted to pass on a message to learn to take personal responsibility. Winter symbolises dying and petrified nature, and the absence of hope. Winter Scene contains symbols showing the possibilities of flight (an open window), nature restricted by human hands (drastically pruned trees), and the possibility of a transition to another area or another existence (a closed garden, a ladder, a park surrounded by residential buildings).
[exhibition text 2013]
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