Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Max Beckmann, Selbstbildnis als Krankenpfleger (Self-Portrait as a Nurse), 1915, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 38.5 cm, Von der Heyt Museum, Wuppertal.

© SESAM, Paris, 1998.

The fighting men

6 - Max Beckmann

Beckmann served in the medical services in eastern Prussia, then in Flanders and at Strasbourg. He was a witness to the first mustard gas attacks around Ypres. At Courtrai, he was present at operations that surgeons attempted on the wounded and made detailed drawings of them. His self portrait is built around three elements: the eye that scrutinises, the hand that draws, and the red cross. There is hardly any colour. A few months later, Beckmann was sent home to Germany after suffering a serious mental breakdown. He sought refuge in Frankfurt where he slowly took up painting again.