Max Beckmann
On Painting, the Intellect, the Senses,
Individuality and the Abstract

“For the visible world in combination with our inner selves provides the realm where we may seek infinitely for the individuality of our own souls. In the best art this search has always existed. It has been, strictly speaking, a search for something abstract.”

— Max Beckmann, “Letters to a Woman Painter,” College Art Journal, 1949, pp. 39-43; reprinted in On My Painting (Madras; New York: Hanuman Books, 1988; 125 pp.), pp. 59-80, quote on page 64.

Two further quotes from the same book, from the essay “On My Painting” (pp. 11-37), a speech delivered in London on July 21, 1938:

“. . . I must look for wisdom with my eyes. I repeat, with my eyes, for nothing could be more ridiculous or irrelevant than a 'philosophical conception' painted purely intellectually without the terrible fury of the senses grasping each visible form of beauty and ugliness.” (p. 19-20)

“Everything intellectual and transcendent is joined together in painting by the uninterrupted labor of the eyes.” (p. 20)

From Paul Klee’s “Creative Credo” (1920)

René Magritte on the Revolutionary Artist vs. Folk Art & Stalinism

Explanation Explained by René Magritte

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