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Between and Mortarboard


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Two Men Swinging Hoes and Two Women Planting Potatoes

Accession Number
1996/1.60

Title
Two Men Swinging Hoes and Two Women Planting Potatoes

Artist(s)
Max Beckmann

Artist Nationality
German (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1915

Medium & Support
Pen and black ink on cream colored wove paper

Dimensions
7 3/4 in. x 8 1/2 in. ( 19.7 cm x 21.6 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of the Emil Weddige Collection

Label copy
Scenes from rural life, once regarded by the Expressionists as a refuge from modern problems, became tinged with the ominous once World War I began. In this drawing by Max Beckmann, the grim mood and the military stance of the farmers are not merely an incidental result of the dark atmosphere of wartime. In a letter from May 1915, Beckmann described his encounter with farmers near his post and revealed the inspiration for this print: “On the way home I observed a pair of women planting potatoes with two farmers with enormous hoes—long, angry guys who let fly with great force. From a distance they looked like reapers of death. . . . They [the military command] want to take Ypres early tomorrow morning. Before that though, I must draw these farmers again.”
Volunteering as a medical orderly in 1914, Beckmann welcomed the war as part of life’s experience and saw it as a great adventure, providing material for his sketchbook. The daily horrors that he encountered, however, prompted a personal re-evaluation that had marked effects on his art. Turning away from the Romantic Realism of his Post-Impressionist training, he explored a more expressionistic style, seen here in the two-dimensional, processional placement of the angular figures and the unrestrained use of line.
Text written by David Choberka, Research Assistant for the UMMA exhibition Graphic Visions: German Expressionist Prints and Drawings, January 25–April 6, 2003, West Gallery

Primary Object Classification
Drawing

Rights
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Keywords
Expressionism
hoe
men
modern and contemporary art
women

4 Related Resources

All Artists in the Degenerate Art Show
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
German Secessionists
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Social realism, mid-19th century to mid-20th century
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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