9298. OH THE ABSTRACT WARBLING OF THE DEADENING NIGHT (Beckmann, as artist):
A bit more (only) down the road and what comes is the long silence of working alone as if that’s been my only trouble all these so many years - rather as if this has not all been one long confessional mode of lending my ears to your eyes and together reading out the troubles (‘nobody knows de…’) and watching that man eat fruit is almost hilarious as (my God!) he almost devours that which he eats he almost attacks it to gainsay a pledge to move ahead to make ‘progress’ and sitting back some mealtime too I remember that sensation (‘…like some cold jazz on a palaver of wetness some treated dental plate of special treats served by elegant sisters’) and all around me I seek the horizon of JOY but have such difficulty as high above the new buildings clash even with the sky and I understand the long silence of non-attachment and the removal – like of so many other things – of a person’s life from the world around it as I’m watching here the two people taking pictures of each other - first the one than the other and THEN ! OF COURSE in that typical way - they need a third to take them together so they ask another person who obliges and I watch them walk together up the marble stairways and realize AGAIN I am lost in some other ANCIENT GREECE of time and place and even though it’s only the library steps anew I am transported and I wish them well ALL THREE TOGETHER as the picture is snapped and the thank-you’s given and they break up and walk away but others now are watching and two guys whistle out to show their timid appreciation of the beauty in the light green dress who doesn’t even notice but goes scarlet nonetheless and I swear I can see the pillars and the columns dwarfed as if by something more real than everything else - another time and all its senses - and I know that I have been transposed far far too far away from anything (all of this which again leads me to silence and the open doorways and windows of everything once dead and blind and sorrowful) for now true JOY erupts and I hear the new resplendent world calling as it takes me in !! (‘sometimes I wonder what is introspection red white and blue or through mud and blood to the green fields beyond – which were the colors on a tie’) and I listen close to the babbling sound of passing things and yet whatever they all are they pile up and jumble around me leaving me sometimes stranded sometimes blue BUT THIS TIME SO HAPPY and I understand that it’s only when you admit to yourself the ‘certain’ things which keep you only then is peace found and peace met and kept and the light world gets sunnier and more bright by that all itself and again I watch the girl in the summer light arising and in her green light dress (short and summery too) I see it sticking in her ass-cheeks as she moves until she gently pulls it out and I don’t even mind the move wondering silently what that means – nothing underneath I guess and that's what you get – and chuckling then I let them go wishing Germany and France well as well as all can be too and I admire what I’ve never relinquished (that certain something)… “my time ran out long ago – and is only prolonged artificially as outside the crickets chirp away the summer and it’s beautiful too that sleep-inducing hornlike crackling noise COULD ONE SLEEP FOREVER?” and oh the abstract warbling of the deadening night the words commingle with juices of time and all of myself and I remember only so much and what Max Beckmann the artist wrote in 1949 (that about the crickets) but my own memories - having been BORN in ’49 - of precisely those crickets chirping maddeningly in my first 5-year-old exposure to night walking across the dark green midnight backyard of where I lived and hearing that awesome sound reverberating throughout and I was as struck by that as if had fifty stars a’fallen just then from the on-high skies above me and something like that (I’d suppose) stays with you and having never left me it stays and I paralleled even that again to the salt-sea coast at the Spy House with no ghost (all its haunted tales of the olden days having been removed by the government in decree) so it never was and they can say it but going back to myself here what was I right then but a nothing learning more nothing and all about to unfold and whatever noxious sequence of events Max Beckmann came out of he stepped off the train in August 1949 and considered himself a marked man whose health had been failing for years and who was entering just then his third and final home (New York) residence in exile after Amsterdam and St. Louis since fleeing Nazi Germany in 1937 he was ‘eminent but broke’ (Beckmann was one of the great German artists of the 20th century and had a well-established reputation for harshly expressive canvases characterized by rigidly defined blocks of color and a carved quality that evoked the northern Gothic style and with his most celebrated works being triptychs like ‘Departure’  each one of which told its story in classical form but each one infused with his own mysterious allegories and at age 65 he’d arrived in New York to take a teaching job to make ends meet and so he arrived in New York just then to begin a job at the Brooklyn Museum Art School) he was also ‘eminent’ but out of fashion he was ‘eminent’ and German at a time when it was not good to be a German and in the last 16 months of his life he painted several of his ‘major’ pictures including ‘Falling Man’ ‘The Argonauts’ and ‘Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket’ each completed in 1950 the year he died (“it wasn’t a dribbling out it was just the opposite – he used all his strength to do the most he could”) and the energy of the city put Beckmann’s talents as well as his weaknesses into high relief much the way he emphasized his painted figures with thick black outlines and such theatricality in his pictures extended to his life as he called New York the ‘City of Giants’ and although he spoke little English he got around and when he wasn’t drinking Mumm’s at the Plaza – his favorite destination – he dined in Chinatown and caroused on the Bowery and from his first home near Gramercy Park and then from his last home on Central Park West he walked all over the city - both to clear his head and to muse on new paintings - but he had come to the city too late and he had a style too singular to turn the heads of up-and-coming painters for the zeitgeist had moved elsewhere as Abstraction was taking off and the beer was flowing at places like the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village which had become the clubhouse of Jackson Pollock while Beckmann preferred champagne and even his students then considered him a ‘glorious anachronism’ and he often wore his coat and hat in class and was often trailed by his wife Quappi who would translate a few of his German phrases into several minutes of instruction for the students and Beckmann did not even pretend to understand abstraction and at the end as his strength ebbed he had to put all his final acuity into his art so that the New York influence is seen in those last works especially ‘Falling Man’ which obsessed the artist for so many months – it depicts a skyscraper in flames and the full figure of a man plunging downward (or floating in midair) with a blue sky behind him (some interpret this as Beckmann’s late reconciliation with death) and he put his brush down finally on the day after Christmas in 1950 and the next day he told his wife that he wanted to go out deciding to walk through Central Park or perhaps to the Metropolitan Museum across the park to see his ‘Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket’ which was hanging there in an exhibition but he died of a heart attack just outside his building at 61st and Central Park West) ‘…SOMETIMES I WONDER what is introspection…’ having been reached some area pinnacle calls to me and I look up seeing to see and saw broad and marbled columns upon which people fix no stare (no no nothing there) like Wyatt and Moore and poets together some circumference no more and all the poets within aligned step forth as Summer’s field makes something all new knowing and showing ‘midst a shower of words and those tidy emotions drown down from them – ‘for a man cannot speak of nothing nor he should’ but when he does – with words and at their expense – who listens? and this may have been Greece this may have been Algiers as with a knowing smile and a low-man’s nod I see it all go on - fast and forward and furious with tumult until these stones shall fall!