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One of Heckel’s most haunting psychological Self Portraits.
This woodcut was created in the middle of the terrible experiences of the First World War. Heckel was stationed with the medical corps in Belgium since 1915. His unit was led by his friend Walter Kaesbach. Kaesbach writes of attacks on them by aircraft during 1917 then in September of that year Heckel’s compound was hit by grenade fire. The present woodcut is a powerful projection of the effects of these experiences. Whilst the subject is drawn from his own experiences, the stark reduction of the image resulting from Heckel’s use of the woodcut turns this into a dramatic experience of Everyman. A comparison with Edvard Munch’s image of The Scream is evident.
There are examples of this woodcut in leading international museums, including The British Museum, London and The Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York
The woodcut was eventually published after the war by the leading dealer and publisher I B Neumann (Israel Ber Neumann) who first opened a book store then print gallery in Berlin in 1910-11 and who was a champion of the works of Edvard Munch and the German Expressionist artists. In 1915–16 was secretary to the Berlin Secession, and in 1921 he became Max Beckmann’s exclusive dealer. During the twenties he successfully established branches in Bremen and in Munich before finally moving to New York in 1923 and setting up a successful business there, where he remained for the rest of his life.