Featuring some 75 paintings and works on paper, “Fritz Ascher: Expressionist” is the first retrospective for the German Jewish artist who survived the Holocaust and continued working in the postwar years.
Tom L. Freudenheim reviews Fritz Ascher: Expressionist for the Wall Street Journal.
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.
"When you visit New York University’s Grey Art Gallery to see “Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists From Iran,” don’t miss the basement. Deep underground, the last work in the show will shake you. Shiva Ahmadi’s animation, “Lotus” (2014), is not one of those plodding videos almost everyone avoids. At less than nine minutes, it grabs viewers and immerses them in a terrifying parable of enlightened government turned bad. With remarkable subtlety and stunning beauty, a peaceful world presided over by a Buddha-like leader is transformed by merchants of death into a wasteland of violence and wanton destruction."
Televised news segment about Fritz Ascher: Expressionist on Channel Thirteen's NYC-ARTS program.
Fritz Ascher: Expressionist is the first-ever retrospective of an overlooked but significant German artist. Characterized by the Nazis as “degenerate” (along with other artists who were banned and persecuted), Fritz Ascher (1893–1970) survived two world wars, and then remained in Berlin where he lived and worked. In addition to painting and drawing, he turned to writing poetry later in life. Organized by the Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc., the exhibition comprises some 75 paintings and works on paper, ranging from early academic studies and figural compositions to the artist’s late colorful, mystical landscapes devoid of human presence.
Drawing on its unparalleled collection of modern Iranian art, the Grey Art Gallery presents Global/Local 1960–2015: Six Artists from Iran at New York University from January 12 to April 2, 2016. The exhibition presents approximately 90 works, comprising paintings, sculpture, drawings, photographs, video, and a large mixed-media installation, among which are some 20 works from the Abby Grey collection. Global/Local is the first major museum exhibition in the U.S. to include both pioneering Iranian modernists and emerging artists working in Tehran and abroad.
"Artist Shiva Ahmadi grew up in Tehran hating the Persian miniature paintings that hung all over her house and everybody else’s in the Iranian capital. 'To me, it was kitsch and ugly and old,' Ahmadi recalls."
“Time decides. When an exhibition scheduled for the winter slot at Grey Art Gallery at New York University wasn’t ready, a replacement had to be found, and “Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists From Iran,” set for a future date, was moved forward. If there was a scramble to pull it off, you’d barely know. Organized by the gallery’s director, Lynn Gumpert, the show looks great, thought through, with the improvisatory lift that adrenaline can provide.”
Fritz Ascher: Expressionist is the first American solo retrospective to showcase this artist’s bold, colorful oeuvre, which features early academic studies and figural compositions as well as late mystical landscapes devoid of human presence. We hear our contributor Irene Javors who reviews this exhibition for Museum Edge.
The artist Fritz Ascher (1893–1970) suffered through a horrific period of time from 1933 through 1945 in which he was prohibited from producing art. No one will leave the exhibit without thinking what if the artist had not been denied the freedom to work for twelve years - a period that impacted profoundly the rest of his life.