Germany’s Neglected Mid-Century Masters

The New Yorker

“The composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) and the painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950) had many things in common. Both were formidable, German, and bald. Both fled Nazi Germany in the nineteen-thirties, eventually reaching the United States. Each maintained a prolific output yet never compromised on craftsmanship—a zeal that made them natural (and distinguished) teachers. After the First World War, each moved from Expressionism to the New Objectivity, and then on to a more personal kind of mastery. Most important, each did so without abandoning what might be called the human figure: Hindemith, by subtly reinventing the traditional language of melody and tonal harmony; Beckmann, by remaining a representational artist at a time when abstraction was all the rage. The two will meet at the Metropolitan Museum on Oct. 16, where Leon Botstein will lead the Orchestra Now (TŌN), a symphonic ensemble based at Bard College, in “Hindemith & Beckmann: Expressionism and Exile,” a program that illuminates their mutual genius through discussion and performance.” – Russell Platt

Illustration by Andrea Ventura for The New Yorker