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The Skaters




key idea
Beckmann repeated the themes seen in The Skaters throughout his career.

Beckmann's works are frequently scenes of the stage, the circus, the carnival and the children's games. Beckmann saw these scenes as metaphors for life. At the circus, performers act foolishly for the enjoyment of others. Beckmann felt that in life we are forced to perform for one another as well. How is this attitude reflected in The Skaters? The figures are not in a usual pose. They are performing an acrobatic stunt for us. The fact that the men wear clown costumes, not winter attire, also suggests that this might be a performance.

Beginning in the 1920s, Beckmann created scenes that crowded people into tight spaces. In The Skaters, Beckmann contained the figures with a door on the left and the flagpole on the right. What was he trying to tell us? How does it feel to be in a tight space? Beckmann was sending us a message about feeling suffocated and lacking freedom in life.

Another major theme found in Beckmann's works is the relationship between men and women. He found this relationship to have areas of conflict, yet realized he couldn't live without it. How do the men and the woman in The Skaters depend upon each other? How do they put each other at risk?

December 2003