The Weight of History: Recovering the Legacy of David Friedmann
February 24th, 6:30 p.m.
David Friedman(n) (1893-1980) was born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austro-Hungary, now Ostrava, Czech Republic. He studied etching with Herman Struck and painting with Lovis Corinth in Berlin. He achieved acclaim as a painter known for his portraits drawn from life. In 1924, his quick-sketching ability led to an additional career as a freelance newspaper press artist. He produced hundreds of portraits of famous contemporary personalities. His talent for portraiture played a central role throughout his career and saved his life during the Holocaust.
After Hitler came to power in 1933, his successful prewar career ended. As each of his options narrowed, he continued to produce art illustrating the events and personal experiences of his time. In December 1938, Friedmann fled with his family to Prague, escaping from the Nazis with only his artistic talent as a means to survive.
Friedmann depicted human fate as a refugee in Prague, as a prisoner in the Łódź Ghetto, in the sub-camp of Auschwitz, Gleiwitz I, and as a survivor. His wife and little daughter perished. Torn from his memories, he created the powerful series, Because They Were Jews! The artwork shows the evolution of the Holocaust from his deportation to the Łódź Ghetto and several concentration camps until liberation.
His post-war journey led from Czechoslovakia to Israel to New York, Chicago and St. Louis, where he died at the age of 86. He is recognized internationally and his works can be seen in the permanent exhibition at the Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem, Israel, among other institutions and museums.
In 1941, the Nazi authorities looted his oeuvre of 2,000 works in Berlin and Prague. However, 500 portraits have been discovered in the Berlin newspapers and the weekly radio program magazine, Der Deutsche Rundfunk. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra created an exhibition of 32 reproductions of his portraits of musicians that opened in November 2008 on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Among the portraits are Jewish subjects who were forced to exile, among them: Arnold Schoenberg, Szymon Goldberg, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Hansi Freudberg (Joanna Graudan). Also, included is the 1925 portrait of James Simon who performed in Theresienstadt and perished in Auschwitz.
Helge Grünewald studied political science, sociology and musicology in Berlin. He worked as a social scientist in teaching and research. Since 1973 he has also worked as a music journalist. He worked for various broadcasters, orchestras, the Berliner Festspiele, Magazines as well as newspapers and record companies. After 16 years as head of the press and public relations of the Berlin Philharmonics, he took over new functions in 2006. As Dramaturg he now cares for the exhibitions, the archives of the Orchestra, the release of historic recordings as well as different types of events (like a philharmonic film series).
Detlef Lorenz was born in Silesia (Schlesien) in 1938. He studied art history and journalism at the Free University Berlin and worked in advertising and public relations for 40 years. He has published extensively on the biographies of 20th century artists and is the author of "Künstlerspuren in Berlin vom Barock bis heute" (2002).
Using clues from the diaries left by her father, who died in 1980 in St. Louis, Mo., Miriam Friedman Morris spent the past two decades retracing his footsteps across Europe, Israel, and the U.S. In spite of enormous obstacles, she turned up much of Friedmann’s artistic output from before as well as after the war, helped by archivists and historians. She found many of the published sketches of classical musicians in now-defunct newspapers and magazines where they first appeared.
Deutsches Haus is showing Friedmann's lost musician portraits from the 1920's from February 20th through April 2nd.
DAAD sponsored event.
In coorporation with Leo Baeck Institute.
Made possible through the generous support of Air Berlin.
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