Inv. No. St P 614
17.5 × 70 × 25 cm
Beckmann, who actually conceived of himself as a painter, did not expand his oeuvre to include sculpture until 1934, when he was fifty. In a time of political hardship he asserted himself as an artist and experimented with a new medium. Here as well, his theme is the world of vaudeville, whose acrobats and performers serve as symbols of human existence. It is not the person, however, but the extreme physical pose of the splits that is the artistic focus of this work. The sculpture is distinguished by voluminously exaggerated extremities and a proportionately small head. The face is bent down to the knee and thus exhibits no individual features. The arm with the hand opened in a gesture of begging is extremely elongated. Beckmann’sFemale Dancer thus neither corresponds to any canon of beauty nor is she subject to any anatomical correctness, but testifies instead to a spatial play of forces the viewer cannot help but experience physically. The stretching of the body to the very limits can be seen in connection with the existentially threatening situation in mid 1930s Germany.