Max Beckmann Archive

The Max Beckmann Archive

Selection of archival materials from the donation of the Max Beckmann estates, Max Beckmann Archive, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

The Max Beckmann Archive in Munich is an archive dedicated to the life and work of Max Beckmann (1884-1950), one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Founded in 1977, the archive is a central research facility and collection of documents (as well as photographs) on the artist held within the Bavarian State Painting Collections and is supported by the non-profit association Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs.

The archive’s holdings comprise over 5,000 letters, including almost 500 autographs by Max Beckmann, as well as 6,000 photographs, about 60,000 newspaper clippings and well over 1,400 special publications. Unpublished materials such as lectures or academic theses complement the constantly growing number of contemporary documents, as do films and sound media. One of its most important additions is a donation from the Beckmann family received in 2016: the estates of Max Beckmann, his first wife Minna Beckmann-Tube and his second wife Mathilde Q. Beckmann, his son Peter and his wife Maja Beckmann. Other important bequests from Beckmann’s friends, collectors and scholars augment the archive’s ever-expanding holdings.

As a research centre and repository of knowledge, the Max Beckmann Archive is the central port of call for academic explorations both of the artist’s work and of the artist as an individual. In addition to continuous in-depth indexing of its holdings, it supports exhibitions and publications by providing materials and enables research projects to be carried out. To this end, the archive offers opportunities for independent research and advises on or assists with academic projects. The archive’s holdings are open to the public and can be used by anybody by prior appointment.

Max Beckmann, Self portrait as clown, 1921,
canvas, 100 x 59 cm
© Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal

Pablo Picasso I Max Beckmann. Man - Myth - World

Pablo Picasso I Max Beckmann
Man - Myth - World

Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal: 17.09.2023 - 07.01.2024
Sprengel Museum Hannover: 17.02.2024 - 16.06.2024

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) and Max Beckmann (1884 – 1950) are key figures of modernism. In the first half of the 20th century, both made decisive contributions to a redefinition of the possibilities and tasks of representational painting. However, it has never been possible to compare their works and thus their artistic attitudes and views on a broad basis and within the framework of an exhibition. The Von der Heydt Museum Wuppertal and the Sprengel Museum Hannover have joined forces to make this possible for the first time.

Further Information

online catalogue raisonné Max Beckmann

The Hamburger Kunsthalle launched the online catalogue raisonné of all paintings by the artist Max Beckmann. Available are 843 paintings in colour illustrations as well as data on more than 5,100 publications, over 1,350 exhibitions, around 2,500 persons, 1,100 institutions and 264 auctions. Accessible worldwide and usable free of charge, the digital directory is intended to serve research and also to be available to the general public as a platform. On behalf of the Kaldewei Cultural Foundation, Anja Tiedemann has expanded, updated and supplemented the catalogue raisonné of Erhard and Barbara Göpel from 1976.

Here you can find the online catalogue raisonné.


News: Max Beckmann Reihe Junge Kunst, Band 26

Max Beckmann
Reihe Junge Kunst, Band 26
Short information and introduction to the volume (PDF in German)

Christiane Zeiller. With an essay by Bernhard Maaz

The observer, the gentleman, the loner, the reflective eyewitness, the seeker of meaning and the self-critical doubt: Especially in his expressive self-portraits, one believes to get closer to Beckmann's multi-faceted nature and thus better understand his entire metaphor-rich work. His artistic career as well as the most important biographical stations, from the years in Berlin and Frankfurt to the exile in Amsterdam and America, are described in this volume by Dr. Christiane Zeiller and the Director General of the Bavarian State Painting Collections.

Klinkhardt & Biermann Verlag
80 pages, 46 color and 15 SW images
14 x 20.5 cm, bound
ISBN: 978-3-943616-48-4
11,90 Euro

Page from Max Beckmann’s diary (1940)
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Max Beckmann Archive, Max Beckmann Estate

Max Beckmann - Edition of the diaries

Of Max Beckmann’s diaries, 14 have been preserved that chronicle the years 1903/04, 1908/09, 1912/13 and 1940-1950. They count among the important sources for our study of art history which have not yet been adequately edited. As part of the Max Beckmann Estate, four of these diaries are located at the Max Beckmann Archive at the Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen, while ten diaries were donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University New York by his widow Mathilde Q. Beckmann.

At the centre of the project lies the seamless transcription and the publication and annotation of the texts, the results of which will be made available in a comprehensive online edition; each diary page will also be digitized. By providing a commentary as well as indexes of persons, places, and works, current scholarship on both Beckmann and Classical Modernism will be able to obtain new insights into the artist’s networks, his professional and personal environment, as well as provide valuable information on the provenance of his works and on aspects of the art trade.

The project is conducted by Dr. Christiane Zeiller and Dr. Nina Peter under Dr. Oliver Kase, and is generously supported by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Arts in Exile

The Max Beckmann Archive is permanently and well represented in the online exhibition ‘Künste im Exil’ (Arts in Exile).

This exhibition represents a new concept in accessing information exclusively on ‘the arts in exile’, past and present. It aims at showing the exile of artists in its multiplicity and at generating a lasting awareness.

‘Arts in Exile’ is a network project that unites the exhibits, contents and findings of more than thirty research institutions, archives, exhibition venues and initiatives in a virtual form. The ‘German Exile Archive 1933–1945’ within the German National Library is responsible for the management and coordination of the project.

The ‘Arts in Exile’ exhibition can be viewed by clicking here.

Short Biography

Born on 12 February in Leipzig

Studies at the Großherzogliche Kunstschule in Weimar


Berlin; first success with early work
Landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, still lifes and especially large-format, complex figurative paintings of religious subjects as well as depictions of contemporary scenes

Volunteers as medical orderly in World War I

Numerous drawings and prints of war-related events; writes Briefe im Kriege (Letters in Wartime)

Frankfurt am Main; radical change in Beckmann’s art around 1915 (The Night 1918/1919)
Series of graphic works focussing on the subject of war and post-war city life, with particular emphasis on theatre, circus, fairs and cabaret; extended trips to Italy and lengthy periods in Paris

Beckmann emerges as one of the best-known and most successful German painters

Divorces Minna née Tube; marries Mathilde ‘Quappi’ von Kaulbach

Starts work on first triptych (Departure)

Together with many other artists Beckmann declared a ‘degenerate’ artists by the Nazis; dismissed from his post at the Städelschule; moves to Berlin

Emigrates to Amsterdam

My Theory of Painting’ lecture in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Twentienth Century German Art’ in London

Experiences increasing difficulties at the beginning of World War II and through the occupation of the Netherlands by the Germans

Beckmann nevertheless extraordinarily productive; creates number of major works including other triptychs and illustrations to Apocalypse and Faust II

Gains teaching position at Washington University Art School in St. Louis; ‘Letters to a Woman Painter’

Finally emigrates to the USA; professorship at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York

Max Beckmann dies on 27 December in New York after completing his ninth triptych.

fig.: Helga Fietz: Max Beckmann in his studio in Amsterdam, 1938
© Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs e.V.

Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs

The ‘Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs’ have their roots in the ‘Max Beckmann Gesellschaft’, founded in 1953. The association supports the Archive and promotes the expansion of its existing holdings; it also provides funds for research, publications and restoration projects. The members of the association enjoy numerous benefits: in addition to being integrated into a lively, interdisciplinary circle of supporters, members also receive free admission to the Pinakothek museums and to the association’s events. These include readings, lectures, travel and joint visits to exhibitions.

Become a member and support the numerous activities carried out by the Max Beckmann Archive to encourage further research on the artist. We would love it if you could be part of it!

The minimum annual fees for members of the ‘Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs e.V.’ are as follows:

EUR 100.00 for individuals
EUR 150.00 for a couple’s membership
EUR 25.00 for students
EUR 512.00 for legal entities or individuals’ associations

You will receive a tax-deductible donation receipt for annual fees and donations.


Declaration of Membership (PDF)

To become a member of the ‘Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs e.V.’, please print out the Declaration of Membership and post it to the following address:

Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs e.V
Barer Straße 29
80799 Munich

Mayen Beckmann

Board of Directors
Prof. Wolfgang Augustyn
Mayen Beckmann
Martina Butenschön, Atty.
Dr Oliver Kase
Prof. Bernhard Maaz
Jeanette Scholz
Dr Christiane Zeiller
Dr Ludwig von Zumbusch

Office manager
Eva Sittner, Dip. Cultural Economics

fig: Martin Mosebach presenting his lecture ‘Vermeer’s Rooms’ on 29 January 2014 in the Pinakothek der Moderne

Summary of holdings

5000 letters, including just under 300 handwritten by Max Beckmann himself, as well as letters by Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud and others are kept in the archive. Max Beckmann’s letters to Günther Franke, Stephan Lackner and Reinhard Piper form a large section as do Mathilde ‘Quappi’ Beckmann’s letters to her sister Hedda. The archive also holds many letters written by friends and acquaintances of the artist to one another as, for example, by the two art dealers Günther Franke and J.B. Neumann. There is extensive material from Stephan Lackner and his descendants in the archive, including many typescripts and all the writer’s publications. Another important collection is the estate of Barbara and Erhard Göpel. The names of the Göpel couple are closely associated with the catalogue raisonné of Beckmann's paintings. 

In addition, 1000 letters to the Frankfurt-based patron of the arts and collector Carl Hagemann (1867–1940) on Expressionism are kept in the Max Beckmann Archive. These letters, some with drawings and largely from members of the ‘Brücke’ group of artists, formed part of the estate of Carl Hagemann, one of the movement’s greatest benefactors. Without the Max Beckmann Archive this collection of letters – of singular importance to the history and art history of the 20th century – would not have remained as one entity but would have been dispersed on the open market. Its acquisition by the non-profit making society for the archive under its management was made possible by the kind support of the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation, the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States), the Bayerische Landesstiftung, the Hubert Burda Foundation and the Eleonora-Schamberger Nachlass, as well as through private donations and its own funds.

The Max Beckmann Archive also has approximately 6000 photographs, some 60,000 newspaper cuttings and many more than 1400 special publications.The comprehensive holdings are continuously being expanded. The catalogues of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures as well as bibliographical references are constantly updated.

fig from: Max Beckmann, ‘Letters to a Woman Painter’, 1948, gift of Maja and Mayen Beckmann
© Freunde des Max Beckmann Archivs e.V.


Academic Projects

Dr. Christiane Zeiller and Dr. Nina Peter, supervised by Dr. Oliver Kase
Max Beckmann - Edition of the diaries
Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
Further information on the project

Anja Tiedemann
Max Beckmann – Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings
An initiative of and financed by the Franz Dieter und Michaela Kaldewei Kulturstiftung, Ahlen

Stephan von Wiese, Hedda Finke
Max Beckmann – Catalogue Raisonné of Drawings

Felix Billeter
Research project of the Bayerische Staatgemäldesammlungen and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus
The art dealer and collector Günther Franke. A contribution to the history of the German art trade and acquisitions in state and municipal art collections in Munich.

A four-year project sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung including an exhibition and a publication.

Barbara C. Buenger
Max Beckmann in Germany, 1904–1937


Released Publications:

Lynette Roth
Saint Louis Art Museum
Œuvre catalogue of Max Beckmann’s Collection of Paintings
published in 2015 by DelMonico Books/Prestel

Christiane Zeiller
Max Beckmann. The Sketchbooks, A Critical Catalogue. Sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
published in 2010 by Hatje Cantz


Please find all publications (most of them are in german) here.


The Max Beckmann Archive is open to the general public for research purposes.

Please arrange an appointment to work in the archive in advance.

Dr. Christiane Zeiller
Eva Sittner, Dipl.-Kulturwirtin

Head of division:
Dr. Oliver Kase
Head of Modern Art
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Please contact us by e-mail:

Max Beckmann Archiv
Richard-Wagner-Strasse 1
D 80799 München

T +49 (0)89 23805 327