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Max Beckmann in Dialogue: Cecily Brown, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Dana Schutz

“We are all tightrope walkers,” navigating the lines between art, grief, and passion—or so wrote Max Beckmann in “Letters to a Woman Painter,” composed for a 1948 lecture at Stephens College, the US’s second-oldest women’s college, in Columbia, Missouri. That same year, he arrived in the United States following his long exile from Nazi Germany and painted Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), a portrait of opera singer Minna Tube, his first wife and muse. Beckmann’s depiction of her as the spear-wielding principal from Wagner’s eponymous opera is a keystone work in this exhibition, which places the German Expressionist in conversation with painters Cecily Brown, Ella Kruglyanskaya, and Dana Schutz. Black predominates and jostles with fiery pigments in Brown’s three small-scale canvases (Untitled, 2019), while her series of eight gouache-and-watercolor works on paper, “Untitled (After Beckmann),” 2012, recall Beckmann’s iconic triptych compositions like Departure, 1932, with figures packed in close and blindfolded, their limbs articulated in jerky, ninety-degree angles...

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