By Ariella Budick
You have probably never heard of Fritz Ascher, a passionate and peculiar painter who, nearly 40 years after his death, is finally getting a smidgen of renown at New York’s Grey Art Gallery. Ascher belonged to a generation of German artists the Nazis hounded into hiding — or worse — leaving a chapter in the history of art truncated and brimming with might-have-beens. He was lucky enough to survive, though the war’s after-effects kept shuddering through his life, pushing him ever further into his own private world. This exhibition lets us see what damage a generational cataclysm can wreak on a single mind. It’s not a redemptive tale with a happy ending, but it speaks of one man’s irrepressible creativity under the direst circumstances, and a strength that eventually ran out.