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Tribute to Ernst Neuschul
6 December 2021 8:00 pm
A talk by art historian Simon Lake about the rich and tumultuous life of émigré painter Ernst Neuschul.
Ernst Neuschul was born in 1895 in Aussig, in what is now the Czech Republic and studied art in Prague and Vienna. Moving to Krakow during WWI to avoid conscription, he graduated there in 1919, subsequently dividing his time between Prague and Berlin. He met and later married a nightclub dancer of Dutch-Javanese heritage, Lucia Lindemann, and between 1922 and 1926 the couple performed Javanese dance across Europe under the stage names Yoga-Taro and Takka Takka.
In Berlin Neuschul moved away from the powerful expressionism of his earlier work and began painting under the influence of the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) movement. In 1926 he joined the strongly anti-fascist Novembergruppe. His work during the 1920s took a more hard-edged and socially committed look at day-to-day life under the Weimar Republic, yet also embodied an innate compassion, whether depicting unemployed industrial workers or the ‘demimonde’.
In 1932 Neuschul became Professor of Fine Arts at Berlin’s Academy of Fine Art and was also elected chairman of the Novembergruppe. In 1933, however, an exhibition of his paintings was closed down by the Nazis. Because of his Jewish birth and radical political opinions Neuschul also lost his teaching post and in March 1933 he returned to Aussig. Invited to Moscow in 1935, he painted a double portrait of Stalin and Dimitroff and the steelworkers of Elektrostal. In 1936 he left the country, thus escaping Stalin’s anti-Jewish purges. In 1937 an exhibition he held in Aussig was vandalised by Nazi toughs, and in 1939 he emigrated with his second wife Christl and son to Great Britain, on the last train to leave Czechoslovakia.
Neuschul died in London in 1968, yet to this day remains far too-little known in this country.
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