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Drypoint etching by Lea Grundig of a man threatened by the hands of unseen people

Object | Accession Number: 1987.92.6

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    Drypoint etching by Lea Grundig of a man threatened by the hands of unseen people

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Intaglio print, Verhor, created by Lea Grundig in 1936 in Nazi Germany. This is number 23 from the series, Unterm Hakenkreuz. Lea Grundig and her husband, Hans, were dedicated Communists who created anti-Fascist works documenting and protesting conditions under Nazi rule in Dresden. Such works were prohibited under Hitler and the Nazi regime. Lea, 30, was arrested for her resistance art in 1936, but released. She continued working as an artist and was arrested in 1938 for high treason and sentenced to two years in the Dresden Gestapo prison. In December 1939, Lea was released and left for Palestine. Hans, 35, was also arrested in 1936 and 1938, and in 1940, was imprisoned in Sachenhausen concentration camp. He was released in 1944 and went to the Soviet Union. The couple reunited in 1949 when Lea returned to Dresden.
    Artwork Title
    Verhor
    Alternate Title
    Interrogation
    Series Title
    Unterm Hakenkreuz
    Under the Swastika
    Date
    creation:  1936
    issue:  1973
    Geography
    creation: Dresden (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    Signature
    front, below image, lower right corner, cursive, pencil : 23/50 Verhör Lea Grundig 1936 Unterm Hakenkreuz
    Contributor
    Artist: Lea Grundig
    Subject: Lea Grundig
    Biography
    "I wanted to portray the thousand fears, the perception of the horrible, the subjection of those who are shadowed and persecuted. I wanted to show the dehumanizing process and the struggle of the best against it. And I wanted to warn the world against the war that threatened." Lea Grundig (1958)

    Lea Langer was born on March 23, 1906, in Dresden, Germany, into a middle class Orthodox Jewish family. Despite parental objections, she studied at the School of Academy of Arts and Crafts and then the Fine Arts Academy in Dresden from 1922 to 1926. While in school, she met Hans Grundig, another art student. Hans was born in 1901 to working class parents, also in Dresden. Lea and Hans joined the Communist Party in 1926. Her father did not approve of her politics or of Grundig, and sent Lea to sanatoriums in Heidelberg and Vienna, but Hans joined her in both cities. In 1928, she and Hans married. They lived in the poor, working class area of Dresden. Lea and Hans were founding members of the Dresden chapter of the Revolutionary German Artists' Association (ASSO) and worked with the Linkskurve theater group. Lea and Hans produced drawings and posters for the Communist Party, but neither could find steady work during the Depression. Lea did linocuts of mother and child images which were widely distributed. She was influenced by the humanistic work of Kathe Kollwitz and the anti-war work of Otto Dix. Her expressionistic style blended elements of her Orthodox Jewish background, social realism, and her deep political involvement in works inspired by the passionate belief that art that would change the world around her.

    Hitler assumed power in Germany on January 30, 1933. By summer, the dictatorship was firmly in control. Opposing parties were outlawed and civil rights were abolished. Resistance art was deemed dangerous and Lea and Hans were prohibited from working as artists. The government established a Reich Culture Chamber to control all aspects of German culture. In the Third Reich, the only purpose of art was to glorify Nazi-determined German virtues. Grundig defied the prohibition and between 1933 and 1939, she created three powerful series of protest art: Der Jude ist schuld [The Jew is Guilty], Unterm Hakenkruz [Under the Swastika], and Krieg Droht [War Threatens!] Her work opposed Nazi propaganda by depicting humane scenes of daily Jewish life and the inhumane effects of raids and mass emigration. She wished to show conditions as they really were and to warn people of the bleak future threatening everyone. She worked primarily in intaglio techniques, such as etching and drypoint. Lea was arrested in 1936, but soon released. She was arrested again in 1938, this time for high treason, and sentenced to two years in Dresden's Gestapo prison. After her release from prison, Lea emigrated to Palestine in December 1939 and produced a series of prints depicting the horrors of the ghettos, prisons, and camps in Nazi-dominated Europe. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Of the nearly 150 prints she created in Germany, 114 survived the war.

    In 1949, Lea returned to Dresden in the communist ruled German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany). She reunited with her husband. Hans, a painter and graphic artist, also had created works that protested the Nazi regime and its brutish rule, based on terror. He had been imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp from 1940-1945. Lea continued to create political works about the Holocaust, including some based on Hans's ordeal, as well as on contemporary concerns, such as atomic warfare. In 1951, Lea became a professor at the Fine Arts Technical University in Dresden in the communist ruled German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany). She was elected to membership in the Academy of Art and served as president of the Association of GDR Artists. She remained politically active and was a member of the Central Committee of the SED, a major political party. Hans, 57, died in 1958, the same year his autobiography was published. Lea, 71, died in October 1977.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Prints
    Physical Description
    Drypoint etching on heavy wove cream paper with an expressionist image of an elderly man with a darkly shaded, swollen left eye, standing with his wrists bound behind his back. In the air around his head are 6 disembodied hands and forearms, swinging clutched tubes, perhaps rubber hoses. The man's face is stark and distinct, but his clothed body is covered with the same streaked black and white shading as the background, as if he may dissolve into it.
    Dimensions
    pictorial area: Height: 13.000 inches (33.02 cm) | Width: 9.750 inches (24.765 cm)
    overall: Height: 21.250 inches (53.975 cm) | Width: 16.625 inches (42.228 cm)
    Materials
    overall : wove paper, ink
    Inscription
    front lower right corner, pencil : 96
    back lower right corner, pencil : 900.-

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The etching was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1987.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-16 07:29:48
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn521154

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