Exile and Creativity: Ludwig Meidner in London

Lecture in English Language on May 19th 2016

Released at: Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:32 (11)

Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966), a leading exponent of German literary and artistic Expressionism, fled from Nazi Germany to London in August 1939, a month prior to the outbreak of war. Six months after his arrival in Britain, he was interned as an “enemy-alien” in Huyton Camp, Liverpool, and thereafter on the Isle of Man. During 1942, shortly after his release from internment, he began working on a cycle of watercolours and drawings »Leiden der Juden in Polen« (Suffering of the Jews in Poland) and, although the series remains largely unpublished and there is a great deal of uncertainty about the quantity, date and sequence of the works, it is clear from their scale and depth of reference that this was intended as a monumental undertaking. Here he re-engaged with political subject matter in responding to reports on the contemporary destruction of Central European Jewry. The lecture at Goethe University's Museum Giersch will explore how, why and through what means Meidner was challenged to respond to the extremely grave news and will deal comparatively with other refugee artists in exile, internment and responses to Holocaust knowledge.

The Exhibition

Ludwig Meidner (1884–1966) ranks as one of the outstanding German artists of the modern era. His life and oeuvre exemplify the social fractures which many artists in Germany were confronted with in the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition at Goethe University's Museum Giersch focuses on works created by this Jewish artist throughout his years in exile. To escape Nazi persecution, Meidner emigrated to London in 1939 and lived in England until his return to Germany in 1953. Under extremely difficult circumstances and conditions, Meidner executed an impressive range of works on paper while in exile – sketchbooks, watercolours, charcoal and pencil drawings – works that until now have been overshadowed by his brilliant expressionist oeuvre. The more than 120 works presented in the exhibition will, for the first time, enable this creative period in he artist’s life to receive the wide appreciation it deserves.

The works Meidner created during his exile years represent a highly intense mix of his inner experience and commentary on those times. As such, they are especially relevant today. With great vision, unsparing directness and symbolic condensation, the artist depicts isolation, persecution and annihilation. And it is with empathy, humour and biting satire that he tells us of an absurdly grotesque and abysmal world.

der GOETHE-UNIVERSITÄTSchaumainkai 83 (Museumsufer)
60596 Frankfurt am Main

more information (in German)