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Remembering Friedel (1915-1994): An Intimate View of Friedel Dzubas (October 27)

Friedel Dzubas, Self-Portrait

Friedel Dzubas, Self-Portrait, © ©Estate of Friedel Dzubas

21.10.2021 - Article

The painter Sandi Slone and the curator/critic Karen Wilkin both knew the German-born abstract painter Friedel Dzubas and frequented his studio during his years in Boston, where he taught and made some of his most characteristic work. They will share their recollections of the artist and his work.

In a prolific career that spanned nearly five decades, Friedel Dzubas (b. Berlin, 1915–d. 1994, Newton, Mass.) articulated his mature style by the 1970s, creating a striking visual language from counterpoised abstract shapes of brushed color that he juxtaposed, overlapped, and opened to reveal his gessoed grounds. Yet, in prior years, Dzubas’s early work in Berlin were influenced by Expressionist artist of the two primary groups known as Die Brücke and Die Blaue Reiter. As Dzubas told curator Charles Millard in 1982, “Their unheard-of brashness of color; that was really brave. That was very exciting. Color’s an emotional thing. These people not only spoke directly; they felt deeply. There was passion.” His early pen and ink watercolors embed the bold coloration of these artists, and once in America (1939), their influence carried over into the striking colors of his works of gestural abstraction in the 1950s. Considered a Second-Generation Abstract Expressionist by the time he visited his family in Berlin in 1959, twenty years after his initial immigration, he underwent a transformative change during his ten-month sojourn in Germany. His conflictual feelings about his mixed Jewish-Catholic background could be felt in the paintings devoid of coloration that he began there. A series of twenty-one black and grey oil “drawings” of allover linearity with titles such as Other Side, Monk, Temptation, Cavalry, Last Station, and Vesper, some in tondo format and others in large-scale vertical rectangles, speak to the effect on him of a spiritual crisis even as he justified these works as responses to his abiding love of the Baroque churches he revisited while there. This split in identity was never resolved: his Jewishness, though never far from his mind, was never spoken of during his lifetime in America.
The painter Sandi Slone and the curator/critic Karen Wilkin both knew the German-born abstract painter Friedel Dzubas (1915-1994), professionally and personally, and frequented his studio during his years in Boston, where he taught and made some of his most characteristic work. They will share their recollections of the artist and his work. 
This event is part of the virtual project “Identity, Art and Migration” investigates US immigration of European refugees during the first half of the 20th century through the lens of seven artist case studies: Anni Albers, Friedel Dzubas, Eva Hesse, Rudi Lesser, Lily Renee, Arthur Szyk and Fritz Ascher.


Generously sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York


Location & Time

October 27, 12:00pm EDT

Via Zoom

Please Register here.

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