Jewish women ceramicists from Germany after 1933
In the early 20th century, women in Germany were finally finding acceptance and visibility in the male-dominated field of art. Yet they were still largely side-lined to the applied arts, such as textile design, graphic design and ceramics, rather than being embraced as equal players in the male-ruled field of the fine arts.
With the rise of the National Socialist regime in the 1930s, Jewish women applied artists were among those whose work possibilities and means of independent existence were threatened. Some had the foresight to leave Germany and their timely exits saved their lives.
Margerete Loebenstein was a well-known ceramics designer and co-founder of the successful Haël ceramic workshop in Velten, around 25 miles north of Berlin. In 1933, she was denounced by the local National Socialist group for "subversive activities." Shortly thereafter, she decided to sell her company. Haël was sold, well below its value, to an NSDAP member who invited the young Hedwig Bollhagen to take over as artistic director of the workshops. Margerete Loebenstein left her German homeland to begin a new life elsewhere. This exhibition follows her to England and shows her attempts to re-establish herself as an artist.
Other Jewish women, who left Germany in the 1930s, settled in Palestine and worked in the field of ceramics. These skillful women chose Palestine for both ideological and pragmatic reasons.
Trained in Germany, they brought their technical expertise with them. Moreover, they had sharp visual sensibilities, a strong sense of determination and the willingness to address the challenges of life in a new environment. What local clays are appropriate for pottery? How should the glaze recipes be adapted? How does one build a kiln? How can one communicate without knowing the local languages?
Hedwig Grossmann from Berlin, Hanna Charag-Zuntz from Hamburg and Eva Samuel from Essen are considered the founding mothers of modern Israeli art ceramics. As refugees and pioneers, they and their colleagues developed new ceramic traditions in Palestine and Israel. This exhibition looks at their work and at the influence of German ceramic traditions in the emerging State of Israel.
10 October 2013 - 2 February 2014
Libeskind Building, basement, Rafael Roth Learning Center
This exhibition of the Jewish Museum Berlin is part of the Berlin theme Year "Destroyed Diversity: 1933-1938." The Museum is also participating in the theme year through the online project "1933: The Beginning of the End of German Jewry."
Please also note that the special exhibition "Avantgarde for everyday. Jewish ceramicists in Germany 1919-1933. Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain, Margarete Heymann-Marks, Eva Stricker-Zeisel," will be shown from 28 February to 20 May 2013 at the Berlin Bröhan Museum, State Museum for Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Functionalism (1889-1939). This exhibition is a contribution to the theme year "Destroyed Diversity: 1933-1938."