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Persecuted Art

The City Museum of Wrocław is presenting the first Polish exhibition of Jewish artists from Wrocław in the interwar period. The central artist of the exhibition is a painter, printmaker, and architect Heinrich Tischler (1892 – 1938), a student of the prominent architect Hans Poelzig and of the famous painter Otto Müeller. The presentation is the first time in 85 years that Heinrich Tischler’s work has been presented in Wrocław.

Heinrich Tischler was born in 1892 in Kędzierzyn-Koźle. In 1910, he started studies at the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Wrocław. During World War I, he served as a soldier. He made his first successes as an artist as early as the 1920s, in exhibitions in Berlin, such as the Free Secession exhibitions. In 1925, jointly with Isidor Aschheim, he opened a school of painting in Wrocław, and a year later he started activities in the field of architecture. His designs include the interior design of the Petersdorff department store in Wrocław (currently Kameleon), as well as many shop display windows and private interiors. From 1930, he was a member of German Association of Artists (Deutscher Werkbund), which had a significant influence on the development of the idea of modernist architecture. 1931 marked the last solo exhibition of his works in Wrocław. He was soon excluded from the list of the members of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts. In 1936, he completed his last construction commission and taught drawing. Soon after the “Crystal Night”, on November 11, 1938, he fell victim of mass arrests and was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp. Thanks to his family’s efforts, he was released from the camp a month later, however, due to the injuries sustained in the camp and emaciation, he died in Wrocław on December 16, 1938. He was buried on the New Jewish Cemetery at Lotnicza Street. His wife managed to save not only herself and both of their sons, but also the artist’s legacy, which was later kept in their apartment in London. When there were favourable conditions, she bequeathed H. Tischler’s works to Germany and Israel.

Tischler’s fragmentary legacy that was saved allows us to precisely recreate his versatile work, especially prints. Heinrich Tischler and his entire generation, shaped by the trauma of World War I, turned to expressionism. Those artists also created other modern art trends. Their works show influences of modern French painting or the “new reality” trend (German Neue Sachlichkeit).

Typical painterly motifs in the work of Tischler and artists from his circle were landscape studies, nudes, street scenes, self-portraits, and portraits of his family and friends. Tischler also sketched faces and genre scenes. He was particularly interested in Wrocław street life against the backdrop of the everyday reality. His paintings are populated by coachmen, house maids, craftsmen, workers, peddlers and immigrants from Eastern Europe. In this way, the artist created a mysterious and characteristic portrait of Wrocław - a place where the worlds of the West and East intersected.

As years passed by, both his works and those of other artists increasingly depicted the problems of Jewish artists in the interwar period, who became victims of political and artistic dictatorship. Expressive and dramatic prints and paintings reflect their internal fear and the uncertainty of the future. Few Jewish artists, persecuted in Europe by the Nazi regime after 1933, managed to survive and save their works. For that reason, the valued artists of Jewish descent from Silesia of 1920s are almost unknown today, and the fate of many of them still remains unexplored. The exhibition organised by the City Museum of Wrocław and Silesian Museum in Görlitz inspired the question about the contribution of Jewish artists in the art life of 1920s Wrocław. The exhibition will present over one hundred works from the collection of the Silesian Museum in Görlitz and the City Museum of Wrocław. Most of them are from the printmaking legacy of Heinrich Tischler. They are accompanied by works of artists from his circle: Isidor Aschheim, Käte Ephraim-Marcus, Emmi Pick, and Jechiel Schulsinger.

Persecuted Art

Heinrich Tischler and his Wrocław Milieu

City Museum of Wrocław, Royal Palace

Exhibition open from March 20 to July 31, 2016
Curator - dr Johanna Brade, Silesian Museum in Görlitz
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue
Entrance fees: normal PLN 15, reduced PLN 10
Exhibition opening: March 20, 2016
For more, go to:


Click to enlarge a photo

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