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Vampires, Ghosts Haunted Max Beckmann During U.S. Exile: Review

A self-portrait by Max Beckmann, called “The Liberated Man,” shows him escaping his chains as a door opens to let glaring yellow light into his cell.

The lurid gleam illuminates the green-tinged pallor of his haggard, careworn face. Beyond the barred window is only darkness. Painted in 1937 after Beckmann fled Frankfurt for Amsterdam, it’s clear this new freedom is unreliable, even illusory. Beckmann, condemned as “degenerate” by the Nazis, didn’t feel safe in exile in the occupied Netherlands.