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Dissent and Displacement: A Modern Story – Monica Petzal and Margarete Klopfleisch

8 February 2020 - 19 April 2020

Monica Petzal: Book burning in Dresden May 1933

New Walk Museum and Gallery, Leicester

The exhibition is in two parts: wall-mounted prints by contemporary artist Monica Petzal; and sculptures and works on paper by Margarete Klopfleisch (1911-82).

Monica Petzal is a painter, printmaker and art historian who trained at Sussex University, the Royal College of Art and Camberwell College of Art. She has had a diverse career as a curator, critic and practicing artist. Her work can be found in public collections including the V&A Museum, London and New Hall College Art Collection, University of Cambridge. Full details can be found here.

Monica has created a body of prints, which explore not only her family history (her parents’ lived in Dresden during the 1930s) but also the forces of conflict and change which have shaped the cities of Coventry and Dresden, both of which were heavily bombed in WW2. New works for Leicester will incorporate the story of Leicester’s wartime museum director Trevor Thomas, as well as ideas around contemporary LGBT identities and modern dissidence.

Margarete Klopfleisch, née Grossner, was a Dresden-born sculptor, draughtswoman and printmaker. Ill health and the fervent left-wing views which she acquired as a young woman dominated her life. Having joined the German Communist Party in 1931, she was forced to flee to Prague two years later when the Nazis came to power and joined the Oskar Kokoschka League of Anti-Fascist Artists in 1937. When Hitler’s troops marched into Czechoslovakia, she fled again. On the 9th March 1939 with the threat of war looming, she emigrated to England on the last transport to leave the Czech Republic.

In England she was employed as a housekeeper by Roland Penrose who in turn helped her with further studies. Here she worked and exhibited with societies such as the Free German League of Culture and the Artists International Association. In 1940, like many German-Jewish refugees, she was interned on the Isle of Man. After her release she exhibited in London, Maidenhead, Cookham, Glasgow and Reading. Her sculptures, many of them carved in wood, link directly to an expressionist tradition seen in the work of Ernst Barlach, also represented in the Leicester collections.

Margarete Klopfleisch, Despair, 1941. On loan to New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester

Approximately 35-40 works by Klopfleisch will comprise the second part of the exhibition, including wood sculptures, paintings, drawings and family documents.


Sunday 16 February 2020: Dissent and Displacement Public Seminar Series


8 February 2020
19 April 2020
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New Walk Museum and Art Gallery
53 New Walk
Leicester, Leicester LE1 7EA United Kingdom
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0116 225 4920
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