A number of years a go a good friend of mine asked if Iwould do a commission for him. My initial enthusiasm was heightened when he told me he wanted a Max Beckmann copy. After I finished up some projects, I got to work on this fun commission.
‘The Family Portrait‘ is a portrait of Max’s own family painted in 1920. Despair is in the air, and lots of Beckmann’s motifs exist in the painting. The king and the crown, trumpet, his own self portrait, and stylized use of space all appear.
The influence of Beckmann in my own work is clear, which created more excitement for this project. I visited the Nelson and Boston MFA to analyze his original painting surfaces. While working on the commission, I spent months studying his marks and use of space.
Working on a cohesive color palette proved difficult. Every source, from books and the web, included different colorations. I decided to follow a printed version, and used my knowledge of Beckmann to flesh out the final colors.
Part of MOMA’s collection, Max Beckman’s original is on the left. My copy is on the right.
A few years after I finished this commission, I was in New York with my friend who commissioned the work. There was a Beckmann show at the Met. We were giddy to see such a large collection of his work in one place. The original ‘Family Portrait’ was the star of the second gallery. The diminutive size of the original shocked us. After years of study, it was great to be able to take all the details of the original.
Left: Posing with the finished commmission.
Right: Posing with the smaller original.
Below you can see the finished painting in situ.