Laband Art Gallery

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, CA



Witness to the 20th Century: An Artistic Biography of Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990)


"Witness to the 20th Century: An Artistic Biography of Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990)" will be on display at Loyola Marymount University's Laband Art Gallery from March 10 through April 15, 2000.

A public lecture, "Public Nightmares: Eichenberg's Dance of Death," about Eichenberg's 60-year career by Robert Conway, co-curator of the exhibit and a longtime friend of the artist, will take place in the university's Murphy Recital Hall from 2 to 3 p.m. on March 18. A reception for the exhibition immediately follows in the gallery courtyard from 3 to 5 p.m. (left: The New Phoenix, 1981, wood engraving, from Jacob von Grimmelsahusen's The Adventures of Simplicissimus)

"Witness to the 20th Century" chronicles the career of Eichenberg, an artist, teacher, author and social activist, whose life bore witness to the significant political, military and social issues of the 20th century. He began his artistic vocation in Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm during World War I; he ended his career in the U.S. as the Berlin Wall fell and Soviet Union unraveled.

The exhibit is the first comprehensive display produced with the cooperation of the Fritz Eichenberg Trust and contains works from the artist's personal collection not previously exhibited, as well as pieces on loan from museums and private collectors. (left: The Grand Inquisitor, 1948, wood engraving, from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov)

Eichenberg was educated in Germany as a printmaker and book illustrator in the Central European tradition. During the 1920's in Berlin he was a satirist for UHU, a magazine that mocked the military and political elite, and the rising Nazi party. With the Nazi ascent to power in 1933, Eichenberg, who was Jewish, escaped to New York with his family.

In the 1930's he taught at the New School for Social Research and created images for the Federal Arts Project and The Nation magazine. His illustration background helped him win contracts to illustrate major works of world literature, including titles by Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Swift, Poe, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevski.

In 1949 Eichenberg met the Catholic radical Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker. Day encouraged his spiritual longings and the artist responded by producing a number of memorable, socially conscious religious images for the organization's newspaper, many of which continue to be in circulation. (right: The Long Loneliness, 1952, wood engraving, from Dorothy Day's autobiography)

Eichenberg also taught at New York's Pratt Institute and the University of Rhode Island. Upon his retirement in 1971 he devoted his energy to narrative cycles of wood engravings with a strong social comment, producing work into the mid-1980s.

"Witness to the 20th Century" and its national tour was organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, and is sponsored by the Louise Bullard Wallace Foundation and the Goethe-Institut, Atlanta. The Laband Art Gallery presentation is sponsored by LMU's Marymount Center for Faith, Culture and the Arts. (right: Nazi Priest, c. 1932, watercolor, caricature from UHV magazine)

Read more about the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/27/10

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