"Small Revolving Door on Yellow and Rose", 1946

Basel 2016
Galerie Thomas
oil on canvas
60.0 x 40.5 (厘米)
23.6 x 15.9 (吋)
signed and dated lower right. The painting, created during Beckmann's period of exile in Amsterdam, is part of the extensive thematic group representing people in bars or hotels. It shows a woman and a man passing through a revolving door. The lighting from the rear top left and the steep diagonal composition with the truncated figures in the foreground seem to suggest their leaving a building. Beckmann, who frequently visited cafés, hotel bars or nightclubs, often made such snapshots of entering, leaving or of a temporary stop the theme of his paintings since the late 1930s. Considering his diary entries from January and February 1945, Beckmann is most probably referring to the Caliente Bar here. He mentions three visits to the Caliente Bar and also notes on three days that he had worked on "Small revolving door". The revolving door or the door in general can be understood as a symbol of departure, of separation. This is reinforced by the "transitory" situation at the bar or in the hotel, in which one finds oneself only temporarily. Beckmann, endangered in both his personal and artistic existence, took up this theme repeatedly, not only in concrete terms, but also in symbolic travel images. The bar can also be interpreted as a metaphor of the "world war theatre", as it is (like the hotel) a meeting point for the homeless, outsiders, travellers and artists. Max Beckmann presented the painting as a gift to Hanns Swarzenski in America, an art historian and medieval expert, and the son of the former director of the Städel Museum, Georg Swarzenski. Hanns Swarzenski had also assisted Beckmann with his resettlement.