Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944). Life in Art and Teaching
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It seems to me that I will drown, and my voice will never reach those on the other side... - Friedl Dicker wrote in a letter to her friend in 1920.

The XXth century made everything possible to prove her prophecy. Now the works of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis are spread over dozens of private and museum collections all over the world. Several minor exhibitions of her early works made her known only to few design and architecture specialists.

The present exhibition and computer catalogue is the result of our attempt to put all the pieces of her heritage together.

July 30th, 1898 Friedl Dicker was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of a stationary shop assistant, Simon Dicker and his wife Karolina Fanta.
1909-1912 Little is known of her childhood and youth. She attended the secondary school for girls in Vienna. She was an excentric, adventurous and smart girl.
1912-1914 Friedl studied photography and reprint techniques at the Experimental School of Graphics.
1915-1916 Then she studied at the textile faculty of the Viennese Royal School of Applied Arts, where she took classes with Prof. Franz Cizek. She also took evening courses at the Free Lyceum.
1916-1919 Friedl Dicker joined the private school of Johannes Itten in Vienna, where this extraodinary teacher shaped his world-famous Bauhaus Basic Course. Friedl's fellow students formed a close group and will stay friends for big parts of their future lives: Franz Singer, Margit Tery, Anny Wottitz, and others.
1919-1923 Johannes Itten moved to the newly opened State Bauhaus in Weimar, with all his students. In Bauhaus Friedl Dicker attended the classes of Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Georg Muche, Lyonel Feininger. She worked in textile, typography, lithography, book-binding workshops. Together with her friend Anny Wottitz she made book bindings on commision. Due to her extraordinary achievement, she was granted a privilege to teach Itten's Basic Course for the freshmen. She also made the typography design for Itten's almanac "Utopia" in 1921.
1920-1924 Friedl Dicker and her collegue and lover Franz Singer became artistic supervisors of Berthold Viertel's theater "Die Truppe" in Berlin and Dresden, designing costumes and scenery for a play "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare (1923), plays by A. Stramm and H. Ibsen (1922).
1923 Itten and all his Viennese students left Bauhaus, Friedl among them.
1923 Friedl Dicker and Franz Singer established The Workshops for Visual Arts (Werkstraetten Bildender Kunst) in Berlin-Freidenau. They designed textile, lace, jewelry, books on customer's individual request.
1924 Friedl's work for the Workshops was awarded an honorary diploma at the Second German Lace Fair in Berlin.
The same year Friedl returned to Vienna, and founded an atelier with her Bauhaus friend Anny Moller (Wottitz).
1925 Friedl Dicker opened a new atelier in Vienna together with Martha Doeberl. They designed exquisite furniture, textiles, embroidery, tapestries, handbags, experimented with new techniques and materials.
1926 The Workshops For Visual Arts in Berlin were closed.
1926-1931 Franz Singer joined Friedl in Vienna. Atelier Singer-Dicker became fashionable in Vienna, building houses, apartments, shops, designing interiors, textile, book bindings. The Montessory kindergarten and the Tennis club in Vienna are among its marked architectural achievements. Atelier employed other local architects and designers: Anna Szabo, Poldi Schrom, Hans Biel, and others. The ateler designed scenery and costumes for Berthold Brechts theater: M. Gorky's "Mother" in 1932, plays "Don Carlos", "Carrier", "Schoolboy" in 1934.
Friedl Dicker started to teach art at the Courses for Kindergarten Teachers.
1927 Atelier Singer-Dicker participated in the Art Show in Vienna.
1929 Friedl Dicker created designs for a textile company in Stuttgart. She took part in the Exhibition of modern interior at the Austrian Museum in Vienna.
1931 "Atelier Singer-Dicker" was closed. Friedl opened her own atelier in Vienna separately from Franz Singer.
1934 By that time Friedl joined the underground antifascist movement. She was arrested for Communist activities during the rightist Starchemberg putsch. After spending a short term in prison, she emigrated to Prague.
1934 In Prague Friedl Dicker continued to work in the antifascist Communist movement, based in the bookstore "The Black Rose". She made friends with the stores owner Elisabeth Deutsch, Alzbeta and Laura Schimkovy.
1934-1938 In Czechoslovakia Friedl Dicker started to give much more time to the traditional style of painting, she turned away from abstract and constructivist art, towards "realistic art". During the previous 15 years Friedl Dicker mastered the Bauhausian concept of "basic forms and colors", and implemeted it into a multitude of modern design forms. In Prague she turned to the "basic values" of the Great Masters of art. She painted Prague street views, portraits, still-lifes, flowers. Many of her works combine a rare mastery over the material, form and texture, and the risky experiments with various artistic values: depth, light, color.
1934-1938As the payed work came by, Friedl Dicker created interior and furniture designs in Prague and other cities, sometimes together with Viennese atelier of Franz Singer.
In her own apartment in Vinohrady, she opened a studio for the children of political emigrees from Germany and Austria. Austrian painter Georg Eisler (1928-1998) was among her students. Edith Kramer, now an American painter and art therapist, started to take private lessons with Friedl.
1935-1936 In the course of her Communist work Friedl Dicker met Hilde Kothny, her most devoted friend since then. In Prague Friedl Dicker also found the family of her mother, Karolina Fanta: Adela Brandeisova and her three sons, Otto, Bedrich and Pavel.
April 30th
Soon she married Pavel Brandeis, her cousin, an accountant. She became a part of a kind, loving family. After turbulent and exhausting love affair with Franz Singer, Friedl finally found support and care from Pavel. She changed her name to Friedl Brandeisova and received the Czechoslovakian citizenship.
1938 Most of Friedl's Viennese friends escaped the Nazi occupied territories. Franz Singer emigrated to London. Friedl received a visa to Palestine, but rejected it. She and her husband moved to a small town of Hronov in the north-east of Bohemia.
1938 In Hronov Pavel and Friedl worked at the textile factory B. Spiegler and Sons: Pavel as an accountant, Friedl as a textile designer. She designed the company's exhibition stand at the North-Eastern Bohemia textile exhibition "Vystava 38 Nachod", and was awarded a golden medal and a diploma.
1938 - 1942 Friedl Brandeisova continued to paint, design local interiors and teach art to children from local Jewish families. Brandeis' house was always full of friends and guests. Friedl painted many portraits, still-lives, landscapes, Hronov street views.
Friedl devoted much time to reading about the history of art, philosophy, pedagogic. In her letters to Hilde Kothny she outlined her own vision of art history and the essence of art, discussed the philosophical, political and religious subjects.
1939 Pavel and Friedl lost their jobs, moved into smaller apartment, and started spending summers in Zdarky village, where Pavel worked as a carpenter. In Zdarky Friedl painted even more village landscapes. Her letters of that time, although reflecting the general adverse situation, show her internal contentment and wise calmness.
1940 The Royal Arcade Gallery in London exhibited several works of Friedl Brandeisova.
1941-1942 Pavel and Friedl were forced to move into smaller apartments twice.
Dec. 14th, 1942 They were deported to Terezin.
Terezin (Theresienstadt) is an 18th century fortress 60 km north from Prague. In the WW2 it was used by the Nazis to build up a "model Ghetto", a propaganda show town, where Jewish inmates were granted some self-government, and were allowed cultural life. About 150.000 people passed Terezin, 88.000 were sent to the death camps, 33.000 died in Terezin from hunger and deseases.
1942-1944 Children in the boarding houses were given care and education by the tutors and teachers. Friedl Brandeisova lived in the girls' home L410. She gave the art classes in the girls' and boys' homes, and for older students.
In her lessons she helped the children to gain self-esteem, find the taste of life and beauty among the gloomy surroundings of the war. She utilized many exercises and ideas from Johannes Itten's Basic Course in Bauhaus, adding to them plenty of her own inventions.
July 1943 Friedl Brandeisova put on an exhibition of childrens works in the cellar of the girls' home L410. She delivered a lecture "The Childrens Drawing" at the teachers' seminar. The lecture outlines the basic approach to the children's art and explains the way to a child's soul through line, form and color.
September 1943 Friedl Brandeisova designed costumes and scenery for the children's performance "The Adventure of a Girl in the Promised Land."
1943-1944 Together with Pavel, her husband, now a carpenter, she re-designed the overcrowded rooms in girls' homes.
Summer 1944 She designed the scenery for a children's ballet, painted town scenes, flowers, portraits and abstract compositions.
Sept. 28, 1944 Pavel Brandeis was deported to Auschwitz. He survived the camp. Friedl volonteered for the following transport.
October 6th, 1944 Friedl Brandeisova was deported to Auschwitz, transport Eo No.167.
She perished in Birkenau on October 9th, 1944.

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