Association exhibits German artist’s work
The Fairfield Art Association announces the works of German artist Rudolph Bernard Neugebauer will be on display beginning Friday through the end of February in the Main Gallery at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
The new exhibit is on loan from the collection of Douglass A. White and Grace White of Fairfield.
An opening reception for the Whites, who are relatives of the artist, is set from 6-8 p.m. Friday during the Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk.
The exhibit is a portion of the collection handed down to Douglass White’s mother and includes etchings and wood or linoleum cuts with a few paintings.
Rudolph Bernard Neugebauer was born in 1892 in Muenster, Germany, a medieval town that by the 19th century had become the hub of the German art world and the new trends of modern art and architecture evolving in Europe.
In 1908, Neugebauer enrolled at the Handicraft and Art Vocational School and by the fall of 1909, he was enrolled in the Royal Academy University for the Fine Arts where he studied two years on a full scholarship. In 1910, at the age of 18, he presented his first exhibition. From 1911-1913 he studied painting at the Royal Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts in Munich on a full scholarship with Professor Hugo Freiherr von Habermann, one of the 11 original founding members of the Munich Secession. During this period, he also studied stained glass window-making in Westphalia and also trained in sculpture.
During 1913-1914, Neugebauer studied at the Paris Academy of Fine Arts and immersed himself in the burgeoning French art milieu. In 1914, he had to return to Munich where he served in the war as an aerial photographer. After only three months, he became ill with a serious lung inflammation, left to recover and then returned to Munich and resumed painting. He spent about a year studying in Berlin with Lovis Corinth, an early member of the Munich Secession and president of the Berlin Secession.
Neugebauer’s work, while showing some influence from the Secession movement leaders with whom he studied, tended to be rather conservative and classical rather than infused with the garish colors and abstract shapes of emerging modern art. Edwin Scharff (1887-1955) and Paul Klee (1879-1940) were contemporaries of Neugebauer in the early 20th century Munich scene.
A commemorative work of art, created by Neugebauer after a vision the night his brother was killed in the 1916 war, is now in the Munich National Museum. The piece graphically portrays the agony of the German soldiers as they hopelessly fight a losing war and sacrifice their lives for an empire they know is about to dissolve.
Neugebauer met his wife, concert violinist Elisabeth Helene Katherine “Else” Raabe, at a spa in Borkum where he was exhibiting some of his works. They married in 1921, settled in Hamburg where Neugebauer opened a studio, taught art classes and exhibited his work.
Neugebauer was primarily a professional portrait painter, doing formal portraits for royalty, political leaders, clergy, academicians and wealthy clients, a number of which can be seen in museums, institutions and public buildings around Germany. Traveling a great deal in Europe in the 1920s, he completed a variety of landscapes and was extremely versatile in media of oil, watercolor, pastel, pencil, woodcut, etching, sculpture and photography.
His favorite themes were rocky coastlines and beaches, all sorts of boats, alpine scenes, buildings, villages, farms, forests and streams, still lifes, nudes, stylized tableaus, animals, graphic arts like posters, invitations, greeting cards and ex libris stamps and sculptures — primarily busts, human figures and animals.
His favorite locations for painting and drawing were Hamburg, the Elbe River, North German countryside and fishing harbors, Alpine country and Mediterranean scenery — particularly Holland, Venice, Florence, Torbola and Capri.
When Hitler assumed power as chancellor of Germany in 1933, the National Socialist party “requested” Neugebauer contribute a bronze bust of the führer for the party headquarters in Munich.
The Nazis did not persecute Neugebauer as they did other modernist artists. When war fully engulfed Europe again, he retreated with his brushes into the woodlands north of Germany and painted flowers. He was eventually reduced to using wrapping paper and scraps of cardboard to continue painting and drawing. He remained in seclusion, supporting himself selling the works remaining in his studio until he died in 1961 at age of 69.