Obituaries

Shalom Schotten (2 March 1934-1 September 2020)

Detail of bookcover ‘David Hockney by David Hockney’ © Thames & Hudson

Shalom Schotten was a graphic designer for more than 50 years at Thames & Hudson where he designed art book covers, working closely with artists such as David Hockney and Lucian Freud.

In 1975 Schotten’s design for a book, Archaeological Atlas of the World edited by David and Ruth Whitehouse won the Silver Eagle award at the Nice International Festival of the Book. He attributed his special ability to fit maps together to his time in the Israeli army in the 1950s. Not the only Austrian refugee at Thames & Hudson (indeed the publishing house was founded by one Austrian and one German refugee), as a child in 1938 Schotten, was sent to safety in Czechoslovakia. From there he and his sister were helped to flee by a brave friend, Marguerite Kohn, while three other siblings were murdered in Auschwitz. He joined his parents in France, all surviving the war. It was in Tel Aviv where his family moved to in 1951 that his career started: he was employed as a sign writer progressing to employment with the graphic designer, Grundmann, who had worked at the Festival of Britain with celebrated designers like F H K Henrion and Abram Games. Deciding that Britain was the best destination for a budding graphic designer, Shalom moved to London and enrolled at the London College of Printing where he met George Adams, an Austrian émigré who had trained at the Bauhaus and was then designing dust jackets for Thames & Hudson. Schotten eventually took over this role from Adams (despite the Foreign Office demanding to know why the publisher hadn’t employed a British designer), settling in well at this new and cosmopolitan company where design has always been important.

His role was not easy as he had to please both publisher and the author, or the artist subject of the book. Naturally, Schotten had his own convictions as to what would make the most aesthetically pleasing design and the best advertisement for the book. Despite this, those who worked with him, the artists and others, found him a pleasure to cooperate with. So many commented on his kindness and patience. His traumatic early life could easily have made him bitter and angry: perhaps it was his very experience as a refugee that led him instead to be especially understanding.

He embraced the computer age and continued to work at T & H for more than five decades producing a wealth of stunning designs. Even the last designs he produced were fresh and up to date, the mark of an exceptional designer.

From an Orthodox family, he abandoned his yeshiva studies and later married a German woman, a brave move for one from his background. They had three children. Later, he remarried; his second wife, Patricia, was Jewish and he returned to his faith.

He died on 1 September 2020 and is survived by Patricia, his three children, Malca, Hanna and Jon (and their mother Petra) and his youngest brother Yossi.

Elly Miller (1928-2020)

Elly Miller (née Horovitz) died on 8 August after an exceptionally full and eventful life. She was already in her nineties when she took part in a panel discussion at Brave New Visions, an Insiders/Outsiders exhibition and celebration of refugee gallerists and art publishers at Sotheby’s in the summer of 2019.

She was the daughter of Béla Horovitz, co-founder of the Phaidon Press in Vienna in 1923. She herself took over the company, now in England, with her husband Harvey Miller on the death of her father in 1955. Well qualified for this role, Elly had long been working alongside Ludwig Goldscheider, Phaidon’s co-founder and author and designer of several of its publications. She had also worked at the Oxford University Press and for The Times. Although Phaidon was already publishing fine art books in the Fifties, Elly’s great passion was for medieval art, not one shared by Golsdscheider who dismissed it as unimportant. After selling Phaidon in 1967, the Millers founded Harvey Miller Ltd which allowed Elly to pursue her love of illuminated medieval manuscripts. Just one of her successes was the set of commemorative volumes for the 900th anniversary of Westminster Abbey.

And yet Elly Miller is known chiefly as the 16-year old girl who read Gombrich’s Story of Art and urged her father to publish it, thereby creating Phaidon’s bestselling book, still in print today with over six million copies sold. It is considered to be one of the most influential art books ever published.

Her family had fled Vienna in 1938 as Jewish refugees, managing to bring Phaidon to safety in London through the auspices of Sir Stanley Unwin. Elly, with her elder brother Joseph (now a celebrated composer) escaped via Switzerland and Belgium, having to move again from London to Bath then again to Oxford when war broke out. She read PPE at Somerville. Intellectual, highly cultured and witty, she was also kind and very sociable. While on stage at Sotheby’s with Connie Kaine, daughter of the Thames & Hudson founder Walter Neurath, another Viennese refugee, Elly delighted the audience with her accounts of Phaidon’s achievements while Connie stoutly upheld those of Thames & Hudson. It was a sparkling event.

Admitting feelings of ‘Torschlusspanik’ [fear of time running out] to me only a year or so ago, she was working as hard as ever as a publisher while still leading a full social and family life. She leaves behind her three children: Diana, Tamar and Malcolm and their families, as well as her brother, Joseph.

Suzanne Perlman 1922-2020

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death on 2 August of artist Suzanne Perlman, just a few days after she appeared in conversation with her grandson Matthew.

A recording of that memorable event can be accessed here.

 

 

 

Paul Koralek 1933-2020

Architect, born in Vienna, came to England at the age of five, For obituaries see:
Royal Academy
Architects Journal
RIBAJ
Irish Times

 

 

 

 

Sunflowers, 1990’s

Eva Aldbrook 1925-2020

It is with deep regret that the death of Eva Aldbrook has been announced by her family.

She was nearly 95 and had lived for the last five months in a care home in Oakham, Rutland, near her daughter and family.

Eva (née Mehl) was born on 1st July 1925 into a bourgeois Jewish household in Hamburg, with an older sister Miriam and a happy childhood full of sport, friends and love. Her mother was enlightened and worked in an art gallery and instilled a love of art in the girls. Their father, a chemist and inventor of underwater welding and fluorescent paint, was also sporty and loving.

Miriam came first to Bunce Court, a school set up in Kent as a refuge for children escaping from Nazi Europe and Eva followed a year later in 1938. Their parents managed to avoid the death camps and escaped to London in 1939. Eva met Alexander Urbach (later changed to Aldbrook) at Bunce Court aged 13, vowed to marry at 21, which they did at Golders Green’s Dunstan Road Synagogue in 1946.

Portrait of Arnold Wesker, c.1950, Ben Uri Collection

Prior to that she studied costume design at St Martins School of Art and danced for the Anglo-Polish Ballet until she had to do war work as a developer at Kodak. She worked as a costume designer and later as a freelance fashion artist. She studied painting at Camden Arts Centre where she served as Vice Chairman for 12 years, before moving to Tuscany in 1989 where they had a large olive farm where Eva had a studio and became a prolific painter, enjoying many exhibitions of her work locally and one in Stuttgart, where pupils of a school made a dance of her life which they performed to her and Alex. In 2002 they sold the farm and moved to Florence, finally returning to England to be near their family in 2006.

She had an exceptional talent as an artist: with an extraordinary versatility of work which included stunning fashion sketches from her time when she freelanced for Vogue, Harpers & Queen, The Telegraph and had a column in the Evening Standard. It included wonderfully humorous costume designs when she worked for Nathans Costumiers and designs for her father-in-law’s London Opera Club. Early pencil sketches as a teenager, showed what was to come: charcoal and pastel life drawings, flowers painted in rich oils, a variety of rich scenes from her life in Tuscany, portraits of Henry Moore, Arnold Wesker, Maria Callas and other famous people and exquisite, colourful scenes of her visits to India. Still drawing until almost the end, she produced around 50 sketches of her carers at Stamford and, in the last week of her life, drew a sleeping resident of the care home.

Fashion sketches, 1950’s

Through her son, Mark Aldbrook and his partner Robert Drake, she was discovered late in life by Gray M.C.A., art dealers who specialise in fashion. She was delighted to have been included in two exhibitions of fashion artists in London where her sketches attracted high prices.

Eva was equally thrilled to have had her drawing of Sigmund Nissel, one of the founders of the Amadeus Quartet, included in Ben Uri’s exhibition of refugees’ work at the German Embassy for their exhibition entitled “Finchleystrasse” in 2018 where she was delighted to be hanging between Frank Auerbach (who also attended Bunce Court) and Lucian Freud. Also in that year, one of the pictures that she had donated to the Ben Uri Gallery of Arnold Wesker was included in their exhibition “Liberators: Extraordinary women artists from the Ben Uri Collection”.

A year later there was further excitement when she was interviewed and filmed in her home in Stamford for the Insiders/Outsiders project.

Recently she was made so proud to have a chapter about her work included in a book by Anna Nyburg on the contribution that refugees from Nazism made to the British Fashion Trade.

The fact that the Ben Uri Gallery are dedicating their forthcoming on-line exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary of internment to her memory, is a tremendous accolade and one that she would have loved.

Monica Stark, 30 May 2020