Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

CAPTURING THE HUMAN FORM

Under the Nazi regime, the art of Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966) was labeled “degenerate.” Today, the Jewish artist is remembered as a key figure in the history of German Expressionism. His self-portrait is on display in “Body & Soul: Expressionism and the Human Figure,” among 65 works by various artists that trace the genesis of figural Expressionism in Austria and Germany from the early 20th century through the 1930s, when Hitler outlawed avant-garde art.

The son of a textile merchant, Meidner was born in Bernstadt, Silesia, now Bierutów, Poland. At age 17, he left home to attend the Royal Art School in Breslau, Germany, after which he eked out a meager living as a fashion illustrator. In the following years, Meidner painted the first of many “apocalyptic” landscapes, which became a central part of German urban Expressionism.

During World War I, Meidner served as a translator for French prisoners of war, and in 1919 he participated in the first exhibitions of the radical artists’ association the November Group, named after the November Revolution of 1918, which called for the creation of a democratic Germany. Over the course of the next few years, he illustrated and wrote many books reflecting his commitment to Judaism as well as socialism. In 1933, he was placed on a list of banned writers and artists, and his monographs were burned by the Nazis. In danger because of his Jewishness, Meidner fled to England in 1939, returning in 1952. He continued to exhibit in West Germany and in 1964 was awarded the Grand Cross Merit of the German Federal Republic.

The exhibit includes paintings, watercolors, drawings and rare prints by artists such as Max Beckmann, Richard Gerstl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Hermann Max Pechstein, Egon Schiele and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

The Gallerie St. Etienne, 24 W. 57th St.; Tue.-Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., through Jan. 3, 2004; free. (212-245-6734 or www.gseart.com)

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.