Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Max Beckmann, Die Operation (The Operation), 1914, dry-point on paper, 29.8 x 43.4 cm.

© SESAM, Paris, 1998.


73 - Max Beckmann

For a few months, Beckmann served as a nurse. In September 1914, he confided to his wife: "The doctors showed me the most horrific wounds with incredible kindness and skill. Everywhere, despite the open windows and the brightly lit room, there was an acrid stench of rotting flesh", he went on, "I held out for about an hour and a half and then I had to get out into the fields." His engravings and drawings bear witness to this unbearable first-hand experience. The artist's eye follows the surgeon's movements closely and then moves away to view the scene as a whole; it resembles another engraving by Beckmann from this period, The Morgue.