Week 6

German Art

Radio 4 series Germany: Memories of… today’s episode Purging the Degenerate focused on the Jewish potter Grete Marks, also known as Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein and Margarete Heymann-Marks, 1899-1990, initially trained at the Bauhaus, first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919.    In 1923, she founded the Haël Workshops for Artistic Ceramics at Marwitz with her husband Gustav Loebenstein and his brother Daniel, where she manufactured her Modern ceramic designs.  In 1928, following the accidental death of her husband, and the rise of the Nazi party, she was forced to sell factory.  Her work was considered degenerate by the Nazi party, and in 1936 she was forced to flee to Stoke on Trent in England, with the help of Ambrose Heal, of Heal’s in London, who stocked her ceramics.

The pot described in the programme as illustrating history.

The Imagine.. The Art That Hitler Hated series on BBC1 gives an insight into how artists that were considered by Hitler to not be representing the German taste, were vilified and their work, supposedly, destroyed.  After 1938, it became illegal for Jews to buy or sell art, which meant that many collections were either confiscated outright or bought at derisory prices from fleeing emigrants.

Matisse's Femme Assise

Matisse’s Femme Assise

In 2010 in a routine spot-check on a German train, Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hildebrand, Cornelius Gurlittan unemployed 77-year-old pensioner with no visible means of support, was discovered by customs agents to be carrying €9,000 in cash: not an illegal sum, but enough to arouse suspicions of tax evasion. When the police entered his home in Munich two years late, as part of their investigation, they found 1,280 works of art, including pieces by Dürer, Renoir, and Picasso, in the rented flat. Many of the pieces in this collection, whose value approached a billion euros, had been missing since the Second World War.  Cornelius died in May this year, leaving the collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland.

The documentary looks at how Hildebrand Gurlitt, a Nazi-approved art dealer, smuggled degenerate works out of sight of the Fuhrer.   Here Tim Martin of the Telegraph reviews the documentary.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/11190956/The-Art-that-Hitler-Hated.html.

I find it beyond my comprehension how it must have felt to be born of that  time, where logic and beauty were alien.

I spotted this work by Wassily Kandinsky in the documentary.

FB_sam03_kandinsky_g_lg.jpg 1,250×1,063 pixels

Improvisation 10, oil on canvas 1024 x 768 cms 1910

I am not so keen on Kandinsky’s later work (he died in 1944), but the work he produced around 1910, really speaks to me.  I need to work out just why this is and to work out how to use this new found understanding in my own work.   http://www.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/wassily-kandinsky/

Rob Ryan

In Interview-Artists 2010, Ryan describes his journey from RCA screen printing to exquisite cutouts. 

Work in progress.  http://www.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/rob-ryan/

We have a book and a mug of his work, but until I read the interview, I, shamefully, hadn’t really been conscious of him as an artist.

Does the overt commercialisation of his work, add to, or diminish his stature as an artist?

Terry Setch

What I am loving about  this course is that every day I am discovering jewels that lead me on a trail of discovery.  I am hoping that this is all feeding into bubbling creativity, because I am becoming so absorbed in the process, I am having little time to produce work myself.

Setch is such a jewel.  Working with encaustic wax (whatever that is-YouTube is such an amazing resource!) he is producing gently coloured powerful works, depicting the damage of pollution and with a sense of irony, using a pollutant to achieve the image.

Severn Estuary.

The BBC library, Your Paintings, 35 of his images and where they can be viewed  http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/search/painted_by/terry-setch

Images from his exhibition in Glamorgan in 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-15255578


London W1X - Terry Setch latest show showing recent works at Cork Street

Time is Running Out 2011 from a recent exhibition in Cork St, London.

Yinka Shonibare MBE

The interview with Nigerian born Yinka Shonibare, in Interview Artists- 2010 focuses on his inspiration for the work in Trafalgar Square, and as such doesnt really give a full insight into his artistic journey.  What you do learn is his driving force, his background, his symbolism, ships and their movement of people, globalisation and its roots in the colonial period.  All of which influences his subject mater and choice of materials.


Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square 2009 250 x 250 x50cms


Yinka Shonibare African Batik Sculpture - Yorkshire Sculpture Park-2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I particularly liked this sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and 

Creative Review, commissioned for the Brighton Festival 2014, which again, shamefully I didn’t see.

Sargy Mann

Sargy Mann has been blind for the last 25 years.


Tim Adams writing in the Guardian in 2010,  ‘Even before he lost his sight, Sargy Mann was obsessed with ways of seeing. As a young painter he was tutored by singular realists – Frank Auerbach, Euan Uglow – who insisted that an individual artist must be exactly true to what he saw. For much of his working life Mann taught students at Camberwell School of Art all he knew about representing light and colour on canvas, with particular reference to Bonnard and Matisse,’

As he says ‘If your subject is your own experience then if you are having an experience, you have a subject.’


This BBC article includes a video of how Mann approaches his work. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29741908

Extraordinary determination to succeed against the odds.  Particularly relevant to me, following an operation to remove a cataract and replace my lenses.   Ongoing issues with my sight,  particularly during periods of stress or exhaustion, make me very aware of how easily I could be in the same situation as Mann.  His resolve has really heartened me.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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