Otto Freundlich (1878–1943) painted this abstract composition in 1938 – one year after another artwork of his had been branded "degenerate art" in Nazi Germany. The title page of the guide on the exhibition of the same name featured his sculpture The New Man from 1912.
Recognition in France
In 1938, in his new home of Paris, the Jeanne Bucher Gallery showed an exhibition of his work to mark his 60th birthday. Over 20 friends and artist colleagues signed an appeal to the French government to purchase two works for the National Museum of Modern Art in order to support the destitute artist.
Denounced and Deported
Following the occupation of France in 1940, Otto Freundlich tried in vain to leave the country. He ultimately lived undercover with a farming family in a Pyrenean village. He was arrested after denunciation and deported to the Sobibor extermination camp. He died there on the day of his arrival.
Artist and Utopian
Throughout his lifetime, Otto Freundlich had close contacts to left-wing avant-garde groups: Dada in Berlin and Cologne, the Progressive Artists' Group in Cologne, and "abstraction-création" and "Cercle et Carré" in Paris. For him, the emergence of new art and a new society had always been connected. The social, utopian substance of his abstract compositions is reflected in titles such as ascension and mon ciel est rouge (my sky is red).
Rejection of Boundaries
In his art, Otto Freundlich rejected any form of boundary – accordingly, the blocks of color in his "Composition" join into a movement that points outside the frame. The tight connections between the cellular "puzzle pieces" signal a flow from darkness into light in which blue, the traditional color of transcendence, gives way to a radiant yellow.
|Year of origin||1938|
|Medium||Tempera on card|
|Dimensions||54,5 x 45 cm|
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Selected Objects: Fine Arts Collection (12)
Fine Arts Collection
Glance through our art holdings featuring modernist works by Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, and commercial graphic art by Louis Oppenheim. The motifs span from biblical and Jewish themes to intimate portraits and Felix Nussbaum’s haunting response to his experience of persecution.
Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as a Bride by August Theodor Kaselowsky
In this painting, Albertine Heine appears to be a Christian Madonna. She holds the ring near her heart, wearing a white dress with her gaze modestly lowered.
Biblical map of the Holy Land
This "New and Original Biblical Map of the Holy Land" from 1893 was probably never intended to be used by pilgrims or travelers on the ground.
Loneliness by Felix Nussbaum
Nussbaum is nearly unique among artists for his striking examination of his plight as one of the persecuted. He painted it in Brussels, where he was in hiding, in 1942.
The Plesch Family Portrait by Max Slevogt
Max Slevogt created this painting of his friend's family in 1928. It captures the intimacy of family life while fulfilling a group portrait's representative function.
Composition by Otto Freundlich
Otto Freundlich painted this abstract composition in 1938 – one year after another artwork of his had been branded "degenerate art" in Nazi Germany.
Moses Looks upon the Promised Land by Lesser Ury
For artist Lesser Ury, the painting marked the end of a lifelong preoccupation with the figure of Moses. Unfortunately, only a pastel sketch for the painting survives.
S. Adam Advertising Poster by Louis Oppenheim
With this poster by the well-known graphic artist Louis Oppenheim, the S. Adam clothing store advertised its products to male and female sports enthusiasts in 1908.
Passage through the Red Sea by Jakob Steinhardt
This woodcut by Jakob Steinhardt illustrates a 1920s Haggadah. The people barely escaped with their lives—as is revealed in the expression on Moses’ face.
Girl Walking by Elisabeth Wolff
The sculpture by Elisabeth Wolff was a trophy at the first sporting festival held by the Reich Committee for Jewish Youth Associations, in 1934. The artwork has only been entrusted to our collection for safekeeping.
Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Max Liebermann
In this late self-portrait, the artist presents himself as bourgeois in a dark suit and a Panama hat. Two years after his eightieth birthday, he painted himself here with a touch of resignation and melancholy.
Sabbath by Jankel Adler
Jankel Adler's painting Sabbath shows a parlor scene on the weekly day of rest. But the artist has not depicted the festive, pleasurable moment of welcoming the Shabbat.
Petermannchen by Lovis Corinth
Lovis Corinth painted this portrait of his student and wife-to-be during a beach vacation on the Baltic coast. It contains a secret romantic message.