Max Beckmann was born February 12, 1884, in Leipzig, Germany. He began to study art with Carl Frithjof Smith at the Grossherzogliche Kunstschule, Weimar, in 1900 and made his first visit to Paris in 1903–04.
Max Beckmann's first solo shows took place at the Kunstverein, Magdeburg, and the Grossherzogliches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, Weimar in 1912. In 1925, Beckmann’s work was included in the Neue Sachlichkeit exhibition at the Städtisches Kunsthalle, Mannheim, and he was appointed professor at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt. Beckmann's first show in the United States took place at J. B. Neumann’s New Art Circle, New York, in 1926. A large retrospective of Max Beckmann's work was held at the Städtisches Kunsthalle, Mannheim, in 1928. From 1929 to 1932 Beckmann began to use the triptych format. In 1937, his work was included in Entartete Kunst, the Nazis’ exhibition of so-called “degenerate art.” The day after the show opened in July in Munich, Beckmann left Germany for Amsterdam, where he remained until 1947. In 1938, he had the first of numerous exhibitions at Curt Valentin’s Buchholz Gallery, New York.
The first Beckmann retrospective in the United States took place in 1948 at the City Art Museum, Saint Louis. In 1949 Max Beckmann was awarded first prize in the exhibition Painting in the United States, 1949 at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. Beckmann died December 27, 1950, in New York.