|"Beginning" Max Beckmann, 1949, oil on canvas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
The piece "Beginning" is a triptych which means it is a single work composed of three panels. Triptychs were originally intended for religious art. Since the work is composed of three separate panels, once installed in a church or home, the priest could open or close the panel depending on the day of observance. Beckmann chooses the traditional triptych style, not for religious purposes but to depict pivotal events in a boy's adolescent development.
The Central Panel
The central panel depicts a boy on a white horse, a woman wearing blue stockings lying on a divan (smoking a hookah?), a cat hangs on the ceiling (reminds me of Puss in Boots).
An organ grinder, an angel, a boy with a crown.
Boys with laconic gazes, a teacher disciplines a pupil, a boy displays his pornographic magazine to other students.