Otto Freundlich, a German artist born in 1878, saw his destiny profoundly influenced by history. He was one of the pioneers of abstract art, and moreover of the Jewish faith, and did not escape the Nazi opprobrium. So much so that his sculpture Der neue Mensch made the cover of the booklet published for the infamous 1937 exhibition Entartetete “Kunst” (“Degenerate Art”).
He studied art history in Munich and then in Italy, where he discovered Cézanne and Van Gogh, of whom he became a fervent admirer. From 1908, his stays in Paris allowed him to rub shoulders with the artistic bohemian of the Bateau-Lavoir : Braque, Gris, Picasso…
Apollinaire would designate him as one of the “most interesting German painters”. A versatile artist, Otto Freundlich first turned to stained glass and mosaics, then he turned to geometric painting to the point of abstraction. Having moved closer to Dadaist circles during the First World War, it was with Ernst that he organized the movement’s first exhibition. Back in Paris, the painter founded his own academy, “Le Mur”.
Assimilated by National Socialism to degenerate art, he received the support of many artists, including Arp, the Delaunays, Gropius, Léger… Many of his works having been destroyed by the Nazis, the artist will use his last months to try to reproduce them from memory. Denounced and deported to the Polish camp of Sobibór, the artist finally died in 1943.