Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944). Life in Art and Teaching
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Short biography of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis
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.|
||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.|
||Friedl studied photography and reprint techniques at the Experimental School of Graphics.
||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.
||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.|
||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.
||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).
||Itten and all his Viennese students left Bauhaus, Friedl among them.|
||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.
||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).
||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.|
||The Workshops For Visual Arts in Berlin were closed.|
||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 Brechtís 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.
||Atelier Singer-Dicker participated in the Art Show in Vienna.
||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.
||"Atelier Singer-Dicker" was closed. Friedl opened her own atelier in Vienna separately from Franz Singer.
||By that time Friedl joined the underground antifascist movement. She was arrested for Communist activities during the Engelbert Dollfuss's austrofascist rule. After spending a short term in prison, she emigrated to Prague.
||In Prague Friedl Dicker continued to work in the antifascist Communist movement, based in the bookstore "The Black Rose". She made friends with the storeís owner Elisabeth Deutsch, Alzbeta and Laura Schimkovy.
||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. |
|1934-1938||As 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.
||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.
|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.
||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. |
||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.
||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.
||The Royal Arcade Gallery in London exhibited several works of Friedl Brandeisova.
||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.|
||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.
||Friedl Brandeisova put on an exhibition of childrenís works in the cellar of the girls' home L410. She delivered a lecture "The Childrenís 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.
||Friedl Brandeisova designed costumes and scenery for the children's performance "The Adventure of a Girl in the Promised Land."
||Together with Pavel, her husband, now a carpenter, she re-designed the overcrowded rooms in girls' homes.
||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.