Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Still Life With Skulls by Max Beckmann

This painting is by the Modernist Max Beckmann and it is called Still Life With Skulls. It was painted in 1945 and it is oil on canvas. It immediately grabbed my attention because of the broad strokes and heavy outlines. The scene is chaotic, as if everything was thrown onto the table at once, and the painting style matches this sentiment. The painting may be interpreted as showing signs of the sins of life (cards for gambling, alcohol) and how they juxtapose the skulls.

The perspective is from slightly overhead, which gives the viewer the best angle to see everything on the table. It also allows for the background to be seen, which are probably windows. The background colors of black and yellow are also visible. The tone of the painting sets is one of fast motion. The large outlines enhance the images and draw them to the eye, which the little lines in the tablecloth and the skulls suggest that there is a chance the pieces haven't even settled yet.

The size of the painting is around 2 feet by 4 feet. The painting is the correct size to show the size of the objects proportionately. Because the painting deals with the subject of death and also subjects some might consider "sinful" the way it was painted truly reflects this. It is painted with enough clarity to clearly know what the images are, but it is also distorted using heavy shading and thick color. It challenges the standard of conventional painting because it is not 100 percent realistic, but for an image that deals with these things I think the style suits it well. There are lots of physical brush strokes which makes your eye not only wander from subject to subject, but also from texture to texture.

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