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Lady in a Car

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis1940

Jewish Museum in Prague

Jewish Museum in Prague

The fine pastel drawing is an idealized self-portrait of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, one of the leading proponents of Bauhaus-inspired interwar modernism. Although it is neither signed nor dated, we are able to place it rather reliably within the overall context of Dicker-Brandeis’ oeuvre thanks to a letter dated December 9, 1940, in which Dicker-Brandeis describes it to one of her closest friends, Hilde Kothny: “I am grateful and happy to be alive. It seems that I have managed to slip the net …and I still have enough strength to work. You see my courage in “Auto.” You see how determined I am...”

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  • Title: Lady in a Car
  • Creator: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis
  • Date: 1940
  • Location: Hronov, Eastern Bohemia (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia)
  • Physical Dimensions: w569 x h435 mm (without frame and mat)
  • Provenance: Jewish Museum in Prague
  • Type: Drawing
  • External Link: www.jewishmuseum.cz
  • provenance: Acquired by the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1987 from the artist's friend, Josef Dufek of Hronov, Czech Republic.
  • bibliography: Makarova, Elena: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Vienna 1898-Auschwitz 1944, Los Angeles: Tallfellow Every Picture Press, 2001,p. 133; Kosáková, Eva (ed.) 100 Items from the Jewish Museum in Prague: A Selection by Curators, Prague: Jewish Museum in Prague, 2006, pp. 210-211, cat. no. 92
  • artist biography: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis is one of the most important and unjustly forgotten female artists of the interwar period. Originally from Vienna, where she was born in 1898, she started her artistic studies at the Vienna Photography Institute and the private art school founded and run by the painter and theoretician Johannes Itten (1888–1967). When Itten accepted an invitation to join the newly formed faculty at the State Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, Dicker-Brandeis followed him there along with some of her fellow students, which included her future close creative partner and collaborator, the architect Franz Singer (1896–1954). At the Bauhaus she continued her studies under Itten, but found other mentors as well who strongly influenced her artistic formation: Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943), Georg Muche (1895–1967), Paul Klee (1879–1940), and Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944). Dicker-Brandeis left Weimar in 1923, but remained in close contact with some of her classmates and teachers. Constantly moving between Vienna, Berlin, and other German cities, she quickly became a successful and versatile designer, working as a stage, costume, interior, and textile designer and occasionally also in advertisement. Besides her artistic and design work, she was also a committed teacher who saw the creative process as an educational tool. After the July Putsch of 1934 and her harsh experience of being interrogated and incarcerated for alleged involvement in the Communist underground, Dicker-Brandeis left her native Vienna and, as did a number of left-leaning Austrian artists and intellectuals, sought refuge in the capital of neighboring Czechoslovakia. In Prague, she married her first cousin Pavel Brandeis and devoted most of her time to teaching art, organizing art classes for the children of German refugees. Between 1938 and 1942 she lived in Hronov, a small town in northeastern Bohemia. In December 1942, Friedl and her husband were deported to the Terezín ghetto. Here she continued and intensified her pedagogical activities, making art classes one of the most important part of the clandestine schooling system organized by the ghetto’s Jewish Council. The large set of nearly 4,500 original children’s drawings that were created in Terezín there under her tutelage have been part of the Jewish Museum in Prague’s collection since the end of the Second World War. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis herself was killed in Auschwitz in October 1944, as were most of her Terezín students.
  • Ownership History: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Lady in a Car, pastel on paper, 435 x 569 mm, 1940

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