Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hans Feibusch

Hans Feibusch (1898-1998) was born to Jewish parents in Frankfurt under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II. He served with the German Army in Russia during the First World War and, after a false start in medicine, began his art studies under Carl Hofer in Berlin. Gaining the Rome prize, he went to Italy, and then studies in Paris with Andre Lhote. You can see the influence of Carl Hofer in this magnificent painting:

Hans Feibusch, Trommler (Drummer), 1934 

In 1930, he received the German Grand State Prize for painting. With the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933, Feibusch’s status as a Jewish artist ensured that his work was outlawed. Later that year he fled to Britain. In 1937, his work was banned and destroyed by the Nazis. He became a British citizen in 1938, just a year after his work had been included in the Degenerate Art Exhibition. England was at first parsimonious with honours and critical recognition. Despite the enthusiasm for his work shown by men as perceptive as Maxwell Fry and Walter Hussey, it was not until 1997 that the Tate Gallery acquired a canvas, this one: 

 Hans Feibusch, "1939", 1939

This painting relates to Feibusch’s experience as a soldier fighting on the Russian front from 1916-18. Feibusch had a brother and in 1929 he went skiing. Lutz was tragically killed in an avalanche and Feibusch had to meet the body at the train station. This experience was also much in mind when he painted 1939 his premonition of what was to come.

  Hans Feibusch, Monkeys, 1946

Soon after the second world war, Feibusch established himself as a mural painter and the commissions came flooding in. He was successful not only in ancient buildings, such as St Ethelburga's, in the City of London, where his murals were damaged in the 1993 IRA bombing, but also in modern churches where he worked closely with the architects. His murals in the Civic Centre at Newport, Monmouthshire, are one of the most ambitious 20th century decorative cycles in Britain. You can see them here.

 Hans Feibusch, Newport Civic Centre Mural, The Building of the George Street Bridge, detail, 1960-64

In 1986, Feibusch had a major retrospective exhibition in Frankfurt and in  1967 he had been awarded the German Order of Merit (first class), and in 1989 received the Grand Cross of Merit. He was in his last years the sole survivor of those whose work had been banned in the notorious Degenerate Art Exhibition. Hans Feibusch eventually converted to Christianity, but in 1992 he formally left the Church of England and shortly before his death said: "I am just a very tired old Jew." 

You can visit Hans Feibusch's official site here.

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