Otto Freundlich  

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Cover of the catalogue of the Nazi "Degenerate Art Exhibition" (1937). The exhibition was held to defame modern and Jewish artists. On the cover is Der Neue Mensch sculpture by Otto Freundlich.
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Cover of the catalogue of the Nazi "Degenerate Art Exhibition" (1937). The exhibition was held to defame modern and Jewish artists. On the cover is Der Neue Mensch sculpture by Otto Freundlich.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Otto Freundlich (July 10, 1878 – March 9, 1943) was a German painter and sculptor of Jewish origin and one of the first generation of abstract artists. He is best-known for his sculpture Der Neue Mensch (The New Man) which was photographed unsympathetically and used as the cover illustration of the Nazi Degenerate Art Exhibition of 1937.

Life

Freundlich studied dentistry before deciding to become an artist. He went to Paris in 1908, living in Montmartre in Bateau Lavoir near to Pablo Picasso, Braque and others. In 1914 he returned to Germany. After the First world war he became politically active as a member November group. In 1919 he organized the first Dada - exhibition in Cologne with Max Ernst and Johannes Theodor Baargeld. In 1925 he joined the Abstraction-Création group.

After 1925, Freundlich lived and worked mainly in France. In Germany, his work was condemned by the Nazis as degenerate and removed form public display. Some works were seized and displayed at the infamous Nazi Degenerate Art Exhibition, including his monumental sculpture Der Neue Mensch (The New Man) which was photographed unsympathetically and used as the cover illustration of the exhibition catalogue. Der Neue Mensch was never recovered and is assumed to have been destroyed.

With outbreak of the Second World War, Freundlich was interned by the French authorities but released, for a time, under the influence of Pablo Picasso. In 1943 he was arrested and deported to Majdanek Concentration Camp, where he was murdered on the day he arrived.




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