Max Beckmann, Birds Hell - New Objectivity


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In a claustrophobic cellar, all possible exits are blocked. A nightmarish episode unfolds: the torture of a naked, shackled man by a crazed pod of anthropomorphic birds, an operation overseen by a multi-breasted female, who can be seen emerging from a huge eggshell like a nightmarish jack-in-the-box.

Welcome to Hölle der Vögel (‘Birds’ Hell’), a painting by Germany’s Max Beckmann from 1937-38. His nationality and the date are crucial: Beckmann completed this scene — an allegory of Nazi rule — while in exile in Amsterdam.
The artist doubtless identified with the picture’s victim, who is having lines carved into his back with a knife or perhaps even being skinned. In July 1937, Hitler had launched an attack on avant-garde artists, threatening them with imprisonment or castration.
Nearly 600 works by Beckmann were confiscated from German galleries, and he was one of the principal artists included in the infamous Degenerate Art exhibition staged by the Nazis in Munich in a bid to name and shame those deemed to be ‘driving forces of corruption’. Fearful of further persecution, the 53-year-old Beckmann fled with his wife Mathilde to the Netherlands on 19 July 1937 — the same day on which the show opened.

The victim in Birds’ Hell, however, surely represents the decent, average German. To his left is a table on which we can see some of the good things he enjoyed before the torturers entered: a book (symbol of learning), a bunch of grapes (symbol of charity) and a candle (symbol of enlightenment).

To 21st-century viewers, this scene of unhinged, ornithological attack calls to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie, The Birds. For Beckmann, his artistic inspirations were the hellish, medieval visions of Northern European painters such as Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald.
The demon-in-chief in Birds’ Hell occupies centre stage. It’s not entirely clear whether she's screaming or smiling crudely. She doesn’t represent Adolf Hitler so much as personify the National Socialist party as a whole, raising her right arm in a Sieg Heil salute. Newly hatched, she signifies a horrifying new era.

Available as a fine art print and as a stretched canvas panel (heavy fine art canvas stretched over 1.5 inch deep edge solid wood frame).

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All prints are made using archival art stocks and UV pigment inks to give up to 200 years life. Prints are sold unframed and unmounted.



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Size and Printed Materials

Fine art papers are printed without any additional white border Please let us know at the time of ordering if you would like a small additional white border.

Rolled canvas options have an additional white border of approximately 2.5 inches (7cm) on all 4 sides to aid stretching.

Ready to hang canvas panels are stretched on 1.5 inch deep solid pine frames from sustainable forestry sources. The image is mirrored on all 4 sides to give an aesthetically pleasing finish.

Gift Wrap Option

Why not have us gift wrap your order and attach a personalised message to the recipient. Available for all orders. Each order is hand wrapped in high quality gift wrap with meatllic ribbon and bow. Your personalised message is printed on a card which is included with your order.

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Why Choose GalleryThane?

  • Printed and framed in-house
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Latest Giclee Printing Technology

We have invested in the latest wide format print technology to produce museum quality giclee prints utilising the highest quality pigment inks to give outstanding colour reproduction.

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We print on the finest quality fine art papers with textured, smooth and lustre finishes for prints which last a lifetime.

From aceo miniatures to 40x80 inch large format, every print has our lifetime quality guaranteee.

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All of the wood for our canvas panels and frames is responsibly sourced from manages forests. Our cotton canvas is completely seedless for the highest quality reproduction possible.

Have Your Gift Wrapped

Giftwrapping available for all orders.

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This was a present for my wife and she loves it. The quality is very good. Thanks for your excellent service.

Fantastic packaging and a stunning print. Thank you!

Great quality and a good idea to include a 'free gift' mini-pic to show what the other finishes are like.

Really excellent print quality! I have just had my print framed and it looks great thank you

This arrived quickly and is great quality, thank you! :)

My art print arrived quickly and in excellent condition! Very high quality print! Thank you!!

love my print! Very fast professional service Thank you very much

I ordered the canvas panel as a gift for my sister and she was delighted the canvas is really good quality and perfectly stretched. The finish on the back was really profesionally done too

Amazing print well printed and a reasonable price

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