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Applied Arts in British Exile from 1933

Changing Visual and Material Culture

Series:

Edited by Marian Malet, Rachel Dickson, Sarah MacDougall and Anna Nyburg

Yearbook Volume 19 continues an investigation which began with Arts in Exile in Britain 1933-45 (Volume 6, 2004). Twelve chapters, ten in English and two in German, address and analyse the significant contribution of émigrés across the applied arts, embracing mainstream practices such as photography, architecture, advertising, graphics, printing, textiles and illustration, alongside less well known fields of animation, typography and puppetry. New research adds to narratives surrounding familiar émigré names such as Oskar Kokoschka and Wolf Suschitzky, while revealing previously hidden contributions from lesser known practitioners. Overall, the volume provides a valuable addition to the understanding of the applied arts in Britain from the 1930s onwards, particularly highlighting difficulties faced by refugees attempting to continue fractured careers in a new homeland.

Contributors are: Rachel Dickson, Burcu Dogramaci, Deirdre Fernand, Fran Lloyd, David Low, John March, Sarah MacDougall, Anna Nyburg, Pauline Paucker, Ines Schlenker, Wilfried Weinke, and Julia Winckler.

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Burcu Dogramaci

Abstract

Some of the architects who had emigrated to England found their first clients among other emigrants. Conversions and new buildings of the 1930s are evidence of this close working relationship, which originated in a common experience of exile. Mention may be made of the London houses for the Marx couple (1935–36) and the house of Sigmund Freud (1938), both of which were designed by Ernst L. Freud, but also Fritz A. Ruhemann’s bungalow for the emigrant Leo Neumann (1937–38) or the houses that exiled architects such as Ernö Goldfinger (Willow Road, 1937–39) or Berthold Lubetkin (Hillfield, 1933–35) designed for themselves. This contribution deals with important questions about the history of architecture understood as exile history (and vice versa) by means of some case studies: how homes and therefore also home countries were designed and imagined in a foreign land? What kind of specific ideas and concepts could be realised by close cooperation between the emigrants? Which concepts were imported from the countries of origin; in which way were climate, culture and taste assimilated in material, facade, floor plan and equipment? And finally: to what extent were these houses, built for and by emigrants, representative of particularly innovative attitudes that could help shape the Modern Movement in Britain?

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Fran Lloyd

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the distinctive work of the German-born film animator and art director Peter Hans Richard Sachs (1912–1990), who was permitted entry to Britain in June 1939 to work as a domestic servant, aged 27. Trained in the animation studios of two of Weimar Berlin’s most highly regarded experimental film animators in the early 1930s, the Hungarian-born George Pal and the German artist and filmmaker Oskar W. Fischinger, Sachs first fled in 1934 to Eindhoven in Holland, where he worked on the experimental animated advertisements produced by Pal’s studio for Philips Radio and Horlicks, brands which were known to British audiences. The first in-depth study of Sachs’ contribution to animation in Britain, this essay identifies the specific conditions that facilitated his career, the particularities of the powerful and innovative modernist animations he produced for government agencies and advertising companies through the Larkins Studio in London from 1943 to 1955, and his contribution to professional training and education.

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Anna Nyburg

Abstract

The focus of this article is the German-speaking refugees who made a contribution to the British textile trade as designers. Some of them had trained at major art schools such as the Bauhaus, although such training was not a guarantee of success: timing was important too. Some individual British companies were quick to use the talents and skills of refugee designers, in at least one case having former knowledge of German and Austrian design traditions. The Ambassador magazine was not only created by refugees but employed others to produce the attractive ultra-modern journal which was so important to the post-war export drive. In fact, the refugees seem to have been particularly active in the exporting of British textiles, several of them winning national awards for their achievements. Hans and Elsbeth Juda, respectively the editor and photographer of The Ambassador were not alone among the refugees in influencing British life through education, through their promotion of the visual and performing arts and most importantly, through creating employment.

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Rachel Dickson

Abstract

Werner ‘Jacky’ Jackson (né Werner Isaacsohn, 1904–1984) was a lauded student at the Bauhaus from 1924 to 1928, before the devastating fracture of his emerging professional life. A promising career in advertising and graphic design in Berlin, that most culturally progressive city before the rise of National Socialism, was suddenly and emphatically denied. And whereas many creative disciplines might form a student’s arsenal of skills prior to selecting one profession, Jacky employed numerous talents as he sought to establish himself in Britain, while occupying the uncertain position of a refugee. This essay introduces Jacky’s Bauhaus years and associated networks, his professional life in Berlin and Prague prior to emigration, his subsequent roles with the Lanchester Marionettes in Malvern, Gloucestershire, and at the Charter Club in Oxford,as well as his work as a toymaker and his final employment as a graphic designer for the Pressed Steel Company, Oxford (forerunner to British Leyland). However, unlike other narratives in this volume which focus on single creative outputs, this text, drawing on a number of scattered international archives, examines a multi-faceted journey within the applied arts, illustrating the difficulties faced by skilled émigrés, who were often unable to fulfil the careers for which they had been trained in a long-abandoned homeland.

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Deirdre Fernand

Abstract

The German-born architect Peter Moro (1911–1998) was one of a number of émigrés to Britain who transformed its postwar landscape. A member of the influential Modern Architectural Research Group (MARS), created in 1933 and disbanded in 1957, he helped to promote the Modernist idiom in Britain, notably as one of the chief architects of London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1951. Arriving in 1936, he worked for the architect Berthold Lubetkin, himself a refugee from Russia. Through him Moro joined MARS, which proved the starting point for an outstanding career. Yet Lubetkin was openly dismissive of the group, criticising what he regarded as its lack of intellectual rigour. This essay seeks to examine Lubetkin’s view within the context of Thirties’ Modernism and its political backdrop. It will argue that MARS, whose members included Walter Gropius, László Moholy-Nagy, Ernö Goldfinger and Serge Chermayeff, played a pivotal role for displaced intellectuals. A forum for cultural exchange, ideas and networking, MARS was of lasting significance to those forging new identities in their adopted homeland.

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John March

Abstract

The subject of women photographers in exile was introduced by this author in Yearbook 18 in which he examined a cohort of émigrées who came to Britain in the 1930s and who either continued their photographic careers here, or else commenced their professions after their arrival. This introductory text outlined initial research and wider cultural attention and pointed to the growing interest in these women photographers, which has given rise to a range of historical studies, biographies, new exhibitions, films and fictionalised treatments. This chapter expands the original premise, with a more detailed, extended and analytical account of this group comprising: Inge Ader (1918–2006), Erika Andersen (1914–1976). Alice Anson (1924–2016) Ellen Auerbach (1906–2004), Dorothy Bohm (b. 1924), Anneli Bunyard (1913–1949), Gerti Deutsch (1908–1979), Lisel Haas (1898–1989), Adelheid Heimann (1903–1993), Bertl Gaye (1901–1989), Elsbeth Juda (1911–2014), Erika Koch (1915–2010), Lore Krüger (1914–2009), Erna Mandowsky (1906–2003), Margarete Michaelis (1902–1985), Lotte Meitner-Graf (1899–1973), Lucia Moholy (1894–1989), Ursula Pariser (1917–2010), Gerty Simon (1887–1970), Grete Stern (1904–1999) and Edith Tudor-Hart (1908–1973).

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Julia Winckler

Abstract

This essay foregrounds Austrian émigré Wolf Suschitzky’s contributions to the field of applied photography in Britain between 1935 and 1955. In particular, it focuses on three practical manuals on photographing children and animals, and two illustrated children’s books. A second aim of this essay has been to track some of the creative professional émigré circles within which Suschitzky moved during his first decade in exile and to explore how these intersected and diverged. Suschitzky also developed strong working relations with respected members of the British establishment, who supported his career by commissioning work from him.

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David Low

Abstract

While a sizeable achievement, the series of photographs made by Viennese exile Wolf Suschitzky on London’s Charing Cross Road in the 1930s was never published as a book as originally intended and thus remains somewhat fluid and fragmentary in form. With this in mind, this essay takes its cue from street photography in order to explore the work, ‘wandering’ through Suschitzky’s photographic streets on the ‘hunt’ for chance encounters and striking visual motifs. It sets the series within a history of street photography, identifying a practice that involves elements of photojournalism and documentary without being constrained by either of those modes. Utilising Suschitzky’s own words while foregrounding the photographs themselves, it examines the series as a work of social observation that in turn might provide observations on the photographer. It suggests that the series might be considered a visual record not only of a particular time and place but also of the character of Suschitzky himself.