JBD

 

Extracts from the Nov 2013 Journal

A wealth of memoirs

The number of memoirs and autobiographies by former refugees from Hitler published over the past two decades is rapidly approaching a flood. Partly the result of a natural tendency for people who have reached a certain age to commit their memories to print, this also reflects the huge interest in the Holocaust that has developed in recent years. In this field, women outnumber men – in part for simple reasons of longevity. Women refugees lost the status, security and settled lifestyle that they had enjoyed in their native lands. However, the experience of forced emigration and the demands of building new lives in Britain sometimes brought about a reversal of roles between husbands and wives, as the latter had perforce to take on tasks and responsibilities that had in Germany or Austria fallen to the lot of their menfolk.
Two recently published autobiographies are by female refugees notable for their highly distinguished careers. Though these books could easily fall into the familiar category of the ‘refugee success story’, they do not shy away from the trauma of forced emigration or from the difficulties that beset young refugee women starting out on careers in post-war Britain. The first of these remarkable women is Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley, born Vera Stephanie Buchthal in Dortmund in 1933, who came to Britain on a Kindertransport in 1939. She became a highly successful and pioneering entrepreneur, setting up her own company in the early days of information technology, but then proceeding to divest herself of much of her wealth, as one of Britain’s leading philanthropists; it is a rare business magnate whose pride in being listed in the Sunday Times Rich List is exceeded by her pleasure at dropping out of it as a result of charitable donations.
Dame Stephanie’s changes of name reflect two of the principal challenges that confronted her. The first was that of the refugee from Nazism who has to adapt to a new country; this she met in 1951, on taking British citizenship, when she changed her surname from Buchthal to Brook and started using her middle name as her first name. She thereby committed herself ‘to making a success of my life as Stephanie Brook, Englishwoman’ (Shirley is her surname by marriage.) But her transition to Britishness was by no means unproblematical. In the absence of their parents, whose relationship had broken down, she and her elder sister Renate were brought up in the rural West Midlands by a British family, the Smiths. Her mother took a job in distant Shropshire and her father returned to Germany alone after the war. Whereas Renate never felt settled in Britain, Stephanie flourished: she developed a love of mathematics at school and moved easily into the world of IT in the dawning computer era.
The second challenge was the brute sexism that dogged her career. This led her to sign her letters ‘Steve Shirley’, in the belief that it would enable her to promote her company free from the stereotype of female inferiority that infected the business world. The litany of sexist slurs and inequities she encountered is long and, for men, shaming. When in the 1960s Dame Stephanie had the idea of creating a business by utilising the skills of women who were homebound by family responsibilities but could work part-time as computer programmers, the Inland Revenue concluded, with truly magnificent idiocy, that one of them must be earning her income by running a brothel from her home.
The book relates how Dame Stephanie’s entrepreneurial drive led her to found her company, Freelance Programmers, whose launch on the Stock Exchange as FI Group in 1996 made her a multi-millionaire. What makes this impressive achievement even more remarkable is that she was throughout struggling to care for a severely autistic son, a harrowing experience that at one stage drove her to a nervous breakdown; her son died in 1998, aged 35. Projects connected with autism rank high among the beneficiaries of her charity. Her autobiography, Let IT Go, published by Andrews UK in 2012, is the record of a life full of ambition, vision and generosity, qualities that one may perhaps attribute, at least in part, to the German-Jewish values she inherited.
Lisl Klein’s autobiography, Nobody Said It Would Be Easy, was published by the Book Guild in 2012. It follows the author’s life from her early childhood in Karlsbad in the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, where she was born in 1928, to her arrival in Britain in November 1938, her years as a penniless and alienated refugee child often separated from her parents, and on to her distinguished career pioneering the practical application of social science in the workplace. Klein, at ten, was older than Stephanie Shirley when she left the country of her birth and she found it correspondingly more difficult to adapt to the abrupt change in her circumstances. She too was unable to live with her parents and, unlike Dame Stephanie, experienced a bewildering and mostly unhappy series of temporary ‘billets’. She also felt keenly the separation from her relatives left behind: the figure of her cousin and childhood companion Peter, who died at Auschwitz aged 15, haunts her memory.
Although Klein passed successfully from grammar school to university, she had difficulty as a young adult in finding her place in British post-war society. Her father had died during the war, while her mother struggled with poverty and mental instability. Klein had inherited her values from her admired aunt Fanni, a prominent Social Democrat. Those values influenced the spirit of the work that she later undertook, attempting to measure the impact of new technologies on the employees who had to work with them and to optimise that impact, reasoning that any enterprise that took its workforce into account when it introduced technological changes could only benefit thereby. Her ‘life-long love affair with industry’ began during her first, humble jobs in small firms in the early 1950s. She developed a fascination with diagnosing the organisational structures and deficiencies of enterprises, which led to a distinguished career devoted to improving the productivity of firms like Esso (ExxonMobil). She worked for 19 years at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, then founded her own Bayswater Institute in 1990.
In Britain, the social culture of the Social Democratic refugees from the Sudetenland was restricted to a very small circle. As Jews and as Social Democrats, Klein’s family had been a minority among the German-speaking population of the Sudetenland, most of which went over to the Nazis with enthusiasm. But these ethnic Germans themselves formed only a minority among a Czech majority; when they were expelled en masse after the war, the entire German-speaking culture of the Sudetenland was erased. But by then the Holocaust had also created an unbridgeable gulf between Germans and Jews. These tensions and conflicts of identity echo through Klein’s memoirs. Only when she unexpectedly acquired the Richmond Park Hotel in Karlsbad in the 1990s, as part of the belated process of restitution by the Czech government, was she able to re-establish a fruitful connection with her native town.
In complete contrast to these two autobiographies stands the diary of Sophie Roth, written during the war and published in 2012 by the Theodor Kramer Gesellschaft in Vienna as Für mein Schurlikind: Tagebuch 1940-1944. Edited with exemplary devotion by the historian Evelyn Adunka, the diary was written under the crushing impact of the death of Sophie Roth’s younger son Richard Georg, known as Schurli, who had arrived in Britain with his parents in late August 1939 already terminally ill with cancer; he died on 18 October 1939, a few days short of his eleventh birthday. Sophie Roth, née Landau, had been born in Vienna in 1901 and married Norbert Roth in 1921. The couple also had an elder son, Erwin (later Edwin), born in 1924.
Sophie Roth began her diary on 26 August 1940, the first anniversary of the family’s last full day in Vienna, and the subsequent daily entries recall milestones in the last weeks of her younger son’s short life: their departure from Vienna, the journey across Germany and Holland, their admission to Britain, and their arrival in Manchester. The grief of a bereaved mother structures the diary as she recalls each day what she and Schurli had been doing a year ago, until she reaches the anniversary of his death, followed by what would have been his twelfth birthday. The diary thus becomes a means of expressing, and perhaps to some extent softening, the pain of her loss; even so, that pain comes across with almost unbearable intensity. The entries are punctuated by repeated air raids, while Roth’s sense of loneliness is greatly accentuated by the absence of her husband and elder son, interned as ‘enemy aliens’, which left her to fend alone in her time of greatest need. This is a deeply moving document, which sets the individual tragedy of a family against the broader background of the sufferings and hardships of war and emigration.
 [link]

Copenhagen revisited

I recently spent ten days in Copenhagen along with my wife Jacqueline. I lived there before and during the war and have been back several times to see the family and spend holidays there. This time, apart from the ‘must sees’, we were particularly interested in Jewish Copenhagen and, before we left, we got in touch with the Progressive community. They have been going for about five years, holding their Shabbat evening and morning services in a Unitarian church in the town centre. This is not far from the harbour, where 70 years ago my father and I lay in the hold of a fishing boat waiting to be ferried to the safety of neutral Sweden as German officers patrolled nearby.
We were about 20 worshippers at the Friday night service. This was led by a young lay leader, a female Jewish-American former opera singer who had visited Copenhagen some time before, heard of the group, and they have been together ever since. After the service a number of us went for a meal at a nearby restaurant. This is a monthly event. We learned that Rabbi Julia Neuberger had come over to speak to the group some time ago, that Rabbi Charles Middleburgh of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue visits two or three times a year, and that a lady at our table in the restaurant had a daughter who is a rabbi in a north-west London Progressive synagogue. The congregation had recently been granted the right to conduct burials and marriages.
Saturday morning we spent at the Orthodox Synagogue, where Rabbi Bent Lexner initiated three b'nei mitzvoth - one boy and two girls. This beautiful synagogue was built in the 1830s. It suffered an arson attack in the early 1930s and a neo-Nazi bomb in 1979 but was not greatly damaged. In 1933 King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine attended a thanksgiving service on the synagogue's 100th anniversary and the royal family has attended services there on several occasions.
The Jewish Museum, which due to tourism is also open on Saturdays, is small and was designed by Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin. It has an unusual sloping floor and depicts the history of the Jews in Denmark.
We also wanted to visit the Resistance Museum. Unfortunately all we could see was a blackened ruin as it had recently suffered an arson attack and had been completely gutted. Neo-Nazis are again suspected as there was a debate in the country as to whether to add the other side of the picture - that of Danish Nazis who collaborated with the Germans.
The year 2013 is one of several anniversaries, one of which, this October, is the 70th anniversary of the rescue of the Jews of Denmark.
What made the German occupiers wait three and a half years to introduce measures against the Jews, resulting in a full-scale raid on Jewish homes and other locations where Jews might be found?
Since the outbreak of the war I had been working as a receptionist in a suburban hotel in Copenhagen. In the early hours of 9 April 1940 I was awakened by the almighty roar of aircraft overhead – a colleague told me Denmark had been invaded by Germany. Having fled Nazi Germany only a couple of years before, I became increasingly fearful for my and my family’s safety but my fears were soon calmed: in a hastily convened meeting with the king, the government, realising armed resistance would be futile, accepted the Germans’ surrender terms, which were not at all onerous.
Germany had no quarrel with the Danes but, being at war with England, it needed control of the Danish (and Norwegian) west coast - as long as the Danish government could guarantee unhindered movement of troops and armaments, Germany would not interfere in Denmark’s internal affairs. This meant king, government, parliament, army, police and judiciary retained their positions, governed by the Danish constitution, which, among other things, guaranteed freedom of religion. Thus we Jews could follow our daily lives as before.
The Germans in control, familiar with the feelings of the Danes, were aware that any interference in the Jews’ affairs would provoke unrest among the population, something they wished to avoid.
Thus, at the beginning of the occupation, life in Denmark went on as if nothing had changed. But gradually there developed an anti-German feeling among the population which resulted in acts of sabotage in factories working for the Germans and in the derailment of German trains by the Resistance.
Increasingly the Danish government had to walk a tightrope between not offending the Danish popular mood and assuring the Germans they were able to keep in check any unfriendly actions. However, after a very serious act of sabotage, the Germans made particularly draconian demands to the government to deal with the matter. The government, conscious that agreeing to these demands would alienate them in the eyes of the people, rejected them. The Germans' reply was ‘If you can't control the situation, then we will!’ On 29 August 1943 the Danish government resigned, the army was confined to barracks, and the occupying forces took over the running of the country.
Several high-ranking politicians and others, Chief Rabbi Max Friediger among them, were arrested and taken to Germany and a curfew imposed: everyone had to be indoors after dark. The abrogation of rule by the Danish constitution had now opened the door to making Denmark judenrein. It had taken a long time before the Germans dared to take measures against the Jews.
Not everybody in the German establishment in Copenhagen was sympathetic to this action: the army wanted to have nothing to do with it so that the Gestapo, who would be in charge of the operation, had to request additional personnel from Berlin.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, an attaché in the German embassy, opposed the action against the Jews. Head of the naval section in the embassy, he had been given the date on which the ships would arrive to deport the Jews to Theresienstadt. He quickly went to the leader of the Social Democratic Party, who immediately informed the head of the Jewish community that what it had believed impossible - an action against the Jews - was now imminent. Through Duckwitz’s action some 7,000 Jews - over 95 per cent of the Danish Jewish population - were saved. In 1971 Yad Vashem named him Righteous among the Nations.
Everybody had to be warned immediately not to stay in their own homes. The warning was given by Rabbi Marcus Melchior in the Great Synagogue on the eve of the Jewish New Year in 1943.
When in the middle of the night of 3 October I had to answer a call on the night bell of my hotel, I wondered who might be out there, disregarding the curfew. Opening the door, I found myself confronting a Gestapo man, accompanied by a Danish Nazi who had volunteered as a police assistant. They wanted to know whether any Jewish guests were staying in the hotel and whether I knew that, for the Germans, Jews were defined not only by their religion but also by the ethnic origin of their parents and grandparents. I replied that I had heard of this Aryan concept and, although I knew that a couple of Jewish families had checked in during the day, there were none there now. We exchanged a few more words and they left. I went up to my room, pondering what to do next. The rest of the night I heard trucks pulling up and leaving every few minutes. I wondered which of them might be for me.
In the morning I heard that an open space next to the hotel had been used as an assembly point for those Jews who had been unlucky and been caught. I left the hotel in the morning, having been offered a place in which to sleep by a lady working in a confectionery shop adjacent to the hotel. I managed to get in touch with my family and heard they were all well.
The headlines of the following morning's papers ran ‘Now that the Jews have been eliminated from the public life of the country there is no longer any need to keep the Danish army interned.’ The army officially refused to accept its freedom at the cost of the Jews but they were now free to go and the king, as head of the army, resumed residence in the royal palace in Copenhagen.
The Resistance had been busy too. Temporary shelter and hiding places were found for thousands of people and transport was organised to get us to the safety of neutral Sweden. The Swedish government had expressed willingness to accept anyone who could come and within a few weeks the vast majority of us were in Sweden. Within days my father and I boarded a shipping vessel and, after a wait of several hours, the skipper found an opportune moment to run us across the water to Sweden, where we were most heartily welcomed.
There is a midrash which says that the Creator sometimes creates the cure before He creates the disease. In one of the wars between Denmark and Sweden in the 17th century, Denmark lost what has been southern Sweden ever since. Had Denmark not lost those lands to Sweden, the Jews of Denmark would have had no place to flee to. Gam su l’tovah – this too is for the best.
 [link]

Art Notes (review)

Slashed paintings, desecrated stained glass, statues torn from their pillars - these are the monumental affronts to art that Tate Britain features in Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (until 5 January 2014).
Examples of 500 years of violence against art from the Reformation to the postmodern Chapman brothers also include the iconoclasm of the Suffragettes, who took meat cleavers to Pre-Raphaelite paintings to emphasise that votes for women were more important than celebrating their beauty. Their targets were the Rokeby Venus by Velasquez and works by Edward Burne-Jones and John Singer Sargent.
It is certainly not the most visual or appetizing exhibition. The images are disturbing, but historically valid. As curator Tabitha Barber points out, the destruction of Christian art at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII was not a motiveless, wanton attack but an enforcement of the Second Commandment forbidding graven images. The new Protestants were concerned that beautiful religious images created in past centuries would be worshipped in their own right - and so destroyed them.
This theme runs through this part of the exhibition. Could admiring a supreme work of religious art turn to worship in itself? These early Reformists thought so but their zealous rampage through Catholic monasteries did not entirely succeed. Although some 90 per cent of medieval sculpture was destroyed, some relics were sometimes salvaged and restored and are on show here.
The Statue of the Dead Christ (c 1500-1520) was found broken but essentially whole as recently as 1954 in the Mercers’ Hall beneath its chapel floor and is on loan to the Tate for the first time.
Such state-sponsored violence targeted sculptures from the Great Screen of Winchester Cathedral, illuminated books from the British Library, and broken glass from Christ Church Oxford - actually stamped on by Canon Henry Wilkinson. Some medieval stained glass panels, c 1180, were taken from Canterbury Cathedral’s windows and are shown beside Thomas Johnson’s mid-17th-century painting illustrating the Puritans at work. Even the last prayer written by Charles I, pleading for divine forgiveness for his killers, was scrawled through by Portuguese inquisitors who seized it from a ship which entered Portuguese waters. (Certainly less forgiving was his son, Charles II, who tracked down and brutally killed those guilty of his regicide.) A 19th-century response came in staunch monarchist Frederick Duleep Singh’s upside-down portrait of Oliver Cromwell.
More recently, violence against public art became political. We can see fragments of the statue of William III and Nelson’s Pillar, both bombed in Dublin after the Irish troubles in 1928 and 1936. With state monuments a traditional target of political unrest, it is surprising that there are no photographs of our own most powerful contemporary image - the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad.
Some iconoclasts are motivated by personal or aesthetic rage and some are convinced that defacing art, even in the Chapman brothers’ reproductions, is an act of renewal. Feminists even attacked Allen Jones’s sexy Chair - a nonchalant near-nude in high-heeled boots and black gloves in a yoga position strapped to the seat of a chair.
 [link]

Art Notes (review)

Slashed paintings, desecrated stained glass, statues torn from their pillars - these are the monumental affronts to art that Tate Britain features in Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (until 5 January 2014).
Examples of 500 years of violence against art from the Reformation to the postmodern Chapman brothers also include the iconoclasm of the Suffragettes, who took meat cleavers to Pre-Raphaelite paintings to emphasise that votes for women were more important than celebrating their beauty. Their targets were the Rokeby Venus by Velasquez and works by Edward Burne-Jones and John Singer Sargent.
It is certainly not the most visual or appetizing exhibition. The images are disturbing, but historically valid. As curator Tabitha Barber points out, the destruction of Christian art at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII was not a motiveless, wanton attack but an enforcement of the Second Commandment forbidding graven images. The new Protestants were concerned that beautiful religious images created in past centuries would be worshipped in their own right - and so destroyed them.
This theme runs through this part of the exhibition. Could admiring a supreme work of religious art turn to worship in itself? These early Reformists thought so but their zealous rampage through Catholic monasteries did not entirely succeed. Although some 90 per cent of medieval sculpture was destroyed, some relics were sometimes salvaged and restored and are on show here.
The Statue of the Dead Christ (c 1500-1520) was found broken but essentially whole as recently as 1954 in the Mercers’ Hall beneath its chapel floor and is on loan to the Tate for the first time.
Such state-sponsored violence targeted sculptures from the Great Screen of Winchester Cathedral, illuminated books from the British Library, and broken glass from Christ Church Oxford - actually stamped on by Canon Henry Wilkinson. Some medieval stained glass panels, c 1180, were taken from Canterbury Cathedral’s windows and are shown beside Thomas Johnson’s mid-17th-century painting illustrating the Puritans at work. Even the last prayer written by Charles I, pleading for divine forgiveness for his killers, was scrawled through by Portuguese inquisitors who seized it from a ship which entered Portuguese waters. (Certainly less forgiving was his son, Charles II, who tracked down and brutally killed those guilty of his regicide.) A 19th-century response came in staunch monarchist Frederick Duleep Singh’s upside-down portrait of Oliver Cromwell.
More recently, violence against public art became political. We can see fragments of the statue of William III and Nelson’s Pillar, both bombed in Dublin after the Irish troubles in 1928 and 1936. With state monuments a traditional target of political unrest, it is surprising that there are no photographs of our own most powerful contemporary image - the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad.
Some iconoclasts are motivated by personal or aesthetic rage and some are convinced that defacing art, even in the Chapman brothers’ reproductions, is an act of renewal. Feminists even attacked Allen Jones’s sexy Chair - a nonchalant near-nude in high-heeled boots and black gloves in a yoga position strapped to the seat of a chair.
 [link]

Letter from Israel

I was sitting on the patio of Jerusalem’s YMCA building enjoying a cup of coffee and a croissant one morning, waiting for my French class to begin, when someone with a friendly smile approached me and thrust a brochure into my hand. This was an advertisement for a play to be given that evening featuring Israeli and Palestinian actors. The play, written mainly by its participants, represented the culmination of two years’ work on the project and purportedly tackled the issue of Palestinian-Israeli relations in a new way.
It seemed a worthy cause and, since we weren’t busy that evening, my husband and I decided to attend. When we got to the YMCA we found a handful of people, all of them Israelis as far as we could make out, waiting outside the hall for the doors to open. This was done eventually, albeit somewhat belatedly, to the accompaniment of complaints by some of the people who had been standing there for a long time.
The YMCA auditorium has room for an audience of around 600 so it wasn’t difficult for the 30 or so people who had turned up to find good seats. The stage was already adorned with assorted plastic bottles, old newspapers and other debris, confirming what we could learn from our programme (in Hebrew, English and Arabic) - that the play was set in a rubbish dump. Two actors, a man and a woman, on separate sides of the stage, were busy forming little figures from the debris or wrapping bottles in plastic film, both concentrating in silence on what they were doing. The sound of traffic, rubbish collections, and helicopters overhead could be heard. At one stage, the couple began to speak to one another - he in Arabic, she in Hebrew - and they seemed to understand one another. So far, so very metaphorical.
A woman dressed in outrageously fashionable clothes then appeared on stage, her stance, actions and speech all serving as a caricature of the ‘nasty Israeli’. After launching into an animated monologue (in Hebrew) about the real-estate potential of the site, she offers money to the man, which he apparently accepts. She disappears and the two characters begin to quarrel, still each in their own language. In addition, at one point a grandmotherly figure appears and adds her contribution (in Arabic speech and song) to the dialogue. The Hebrew-speaking girl then gets into the rubbish bin that dominates the stage and proceeds to offer paper sandwiches and rat tail soup to the others - hence the play’s title Take-Away.
Anyone who like myself doesn’t fully understand both languages lost out on half of the dialogue, but at one point we were given to understand that the man and woman undress and make love offstage (as shadows behind a screen), then come back and quarrel some more. Finally, the two begin to fight physically. This was actually the best part of the play in theatrical terms, as it involved some beautiful balletic and athletic movements without the intrusive sound effects that constituted the backdrop to the first scene. At the end, however, the stage was left in a sorry state, with both sides dead or injured and rubbish strewn all over the place.
At this point, a young man with a guitar came along and sang a sad song in Hebrew and Arabic about the futility of a situation in which people are in conflict with one another instead of co-operating.
All very noble and true, we thought as we filed out - but also how naive and over-simplified. Still, it’s important to try and get the message out into the world. It’s a pity, though, that there were so few Palestinians in the audience.
 [link]

Art Notes (review)

In the National Gallery’s new exhibition Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 (until 12 January 2014, sponsored by Credit Suisse), we see the old order is dying: classical portraiture, with all its bejewelled formality, is on the way out. The ‘New Vienna’ presents a middle class in the flux of change. Immigrants flood in from across the Empire, new industrial money invigorates art but, sadly, what begins with liberalisation ends in nationalism and prejudice aimed at the new Jewish immigrants.
Artists with a Jewish background lead the art of protest art, the first tentative steps of Expressionism soon to be stamped on by the oncoming Nazi regime. Up to this point fin-de-siècle artists were commissioned by wealthy patrons and the work of the artists in this collection includes iconoclasts Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka, Isidore Kaufmann and Arnold Schönberg, the composer of 12-tone music.
But the new modernism was diverse, from Schiele’s heart-rending family portrait, the flesh leathery, the faces introspective, a baby which will never be born, perched like a ghost between his mother’s knees.
In his own self-portrait with raised bare shoulder, Schiele anticipates Francis Bacon - spiky black hair and flesh exposed like meat. In another style, Schiele’s portrait of Erich Lederer shows a young man with a small pale head above an assertive body dressed in lederhosen and with a large hand on his hips. The work of Schönberg, by contrast, is grim and contained, the flesh colours a dull cobalt, while Klimt in his earlier work retains classical detail. His 1894 painting Young Girl Seated describes the intricate folds of a blouse in muted colours and his famous Portrait of a Lady in Black still retains its classical provenance.
But the Klimt we recognise bursts into action around 1904 in Portrait of Hermine Gallia, she of the surreal diaphanous dress, and in 1917 in his flowing and languid Posthumous Portrait of Ria Munk.
But in 1846 little was rocking the boat. Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller’s Portrait of Schaumberg’s Wife, for instance, gives Viennese society what it is accustomed to. Here are all the detail and sobriety of the classical painting, with trimmings of lace and brocade.
The emphasis on death - Beethoven’s death mask, as well as Schiele’s Portrait of Ria Munk, even Anton Romako’s wistful painting of his nieces (his two daughters killed themselves in 1887 while he himself died two years later aged 57) - can be read prophetically with regard to the future for Viennese art, but the Pre-Raphaelites equally had a propensity for the morbid.
Gerstl’s final work, Nude Self-Portrait with Palette, with its scrambled background and tousled hair, was said to have been painted shortly before his suicide.
Broncia Koller’s study of a young girl with a birdcage typifies change in art. Carl Moll’s 1906 self-portrait in his study, still classical in tone, with slanted light across the tiled floor, heavy wood furniture and sculpture, shows the artist in the background behind pale curtains - almost an afterthought. This is a view of a changing world: exciting, important and nostalgic. [link]

Letters to the Editor

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