The Wilhelm Beckmann Foundation

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Hamraborg 6a

200 Kopavogur, Iceland

+354 862 6726

Stofnun Wilhelms  Beckmann

Allur réttur áskilinn

Wilhelm Ernst Beckmann

Biography

Wilhelm Ernst Beckmann was  born in  Hamburg, Germany 5th of February 1909.
Parents where Wilhelm Beckmann  and  Louise Bierbaum.
Beckmann had  one  brother George an  activist  in German  Social Democrat Party,  later  to become  one  of the  Mayors in  the  city  of Dusseldorf.

At  fourteen  Beckmann  commenced apprenticeship in woodcarving under  the  Woodcarving  Master  Peter Olde,  who  was  well  known  in  the  trade at  that  time.
In  the  spring  1927  Beckmann  graduated  in  his  trade  and  commenced to  work in his  own  workshop along  with  teaching duties.

During this  time Beckmann  was  producing many  pieces  of artwork  and  those  where  in  private  ownership  and some  in  museums.
In  1934  Beckmann  was  25  year  old  and  well  established  known  artist.
During  this  time  Beckmann  was along with  his  brother  George  very  active  within  the  Social  Democratic  Party. This  was to be a great  hindrance to  further  advancements  in  Germany.
When  Nazism came  to  power in  Germany Beckmann found  himself restricted  in  his activities  and things  came to  a  halt  when  his  brother  and  father  where imprisoned  for  their Social  Democratic  activities.
To  avoid a  fate  similar  to his  father and  brother  Beckmann decided to move to Denmark  and try  his  luck  there. After obtaining visa for  one  year he  attended  the  Royal Academy of  Art during  his  stay. After  obtaining  Visa to Iceland Beckmann  arrives  in  Reykjavik in  1935,  and  has  neither a  job or a  place to  stay.
Thanks  to helpful  members of  the  Icelandic Social  Democratic Party Beckmann  was  assisted in  settling  down in  Reykjavik.
Living in  Iceland became a  much  longer  than  anticipated,  and  Beckmann  became to  love this  new  land,  and  place  of  safety.
Even  though  Beckmann  had  many  offers  to  return  to Germany,  he  never  accepted  any,  but  became  an Icelander with  all  his  heart.
Further proving  that  point  by  becoming  an Icelandic  Citizen  in  1946.

In 1940 Beckmann married  Valdis  Einarsdottir and  they  had  two  children, Hrefna  living  in  Iceland  and  Einar in  Australia.

During  his  life in  Iceland Beckmann  worked  independently  and  created  wide  variety  of  artworks,  specially of  religious  type for  many  Icelandic  Churches.
Many  of  those  works  where  made  on  commission, but considerable  number  of  artworks  where  donated  by  Beckmann.
Beckmann  was often  regarded  as a  person  of  eccentric nature  and  would  live  his  life  often  against  the  rulebook.
This  made  him  unpopular  in  some  quarters ,  but  Beckmann  left a legacy  of  art to  be  enjoyed  by  many  generations  to  come.

Wilhelm  Ernst Beckmann died  on  the  11th May  1965 after a  long  illness 

Poem  by  Beckmann  (in German)

Wir  wollen Flamme sein
Welt zu befreien
Wir wollen hochtes Recht
Nicht Herren  oder Knecht
Wir  wollen unsere  ganze  Leben
Fur  das  eine  geben
Jedem soll  ganzes Mensch sein warden
auf  Erden

Learning the tricks of the trade

Beckmann demonstrating clay modelling to his apprentice Gudjon Asberg Jonsson who later became a coworker of Beckmann for many years