‘Viewing my Night’: a Comparison between the Thinking of Max Beckmann and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Dejan Makovec


‘It is surely the most foolhardy and unsatisfactory endeavour to wish to
express things about art in words or writing; since whether they wish to or
not, each person speaks only for their own house, their own soul, and
absolute objectivity or justice is impossible.’ Thus writes the
German painter Max Beckmann. Yet when he expresses himself about his own works,
his theories come remarkably close to those of his contemporary Ludwig
Wittgenstein. Beckmann’s impressions of the First World War were crucial for the
further development of his painting, and during the same period Wittgenstein was
preparing his first work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. This appeared at
almost the same time as a key work of Beckmann’s, Die Nacht (‘The Night’) – when
viewing which one must, according to Beckmann, forget the representational
through the metaphysical.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; painting; pictoriality; space; diary; beholder; picture; metaphysics

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