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Berson1915

Ben Uri Research Unit

Ben Uri Research Unit

3D Ausstellungen

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    Self Portraits from the Ben Uri Collection

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    Shanti Panchal A Personal Language of Painting 2007-2018

    Shanti Panchal (c.1950s-) Autumn 2007 Watercolour on paper 77 x 58 cm Courtesy of the Artist © Shanti Panchal 2020 To see and discover more about this artist click here View works Shanti Panchal: A Personal Language of Painting is Ben Uri Research Unit’s first digital show devoted to a contemporary émigré. Born in the mid-1950s (exact date unknown) in rural Gujarat, western India, Panchal arrived in London on a British Council scholarship from 1978-80; he has now lived and worked here for over 40 years. These 12 images, across a decade, showcase his masterly handling of his preferred medium - saturated colours that can hardly seem to 'be' watercolour. Enigmatic narratives are personal and universal, addressing urgent issues facing humanity in the 21st century: slavery, refugees and migrants, disability, terrorism, the role of women, family, and Britain’s place in a new European order. Within these powerful images, we can each perhaps recognise something of our own experiences.

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    Midnight's Family: 70 years of Indian Artists in Britain

    This timely exhibition, which coincides with the date of Indian Independence (declared at midnight on 15 August 1947), addresses the representation of Indian immigrant artists (both first and second generation) working in Britain for more than 70 years. Part of the ongoing series of exhibitions produced by the ‘Ben Uri Research Unit for the Study of the Immigrant and Jewish Contribution to the Visual Arts in Britain Since 1900’ (BURU), it is BURU’s first exhibition to explore a non-European émigré artistic community, following previous investigations, since 2016, into Austrian, Czech, German and Polish nationals who migrated to Britain - narratives which were significantly impacted by the Second World War and the Nazi domination of Europe. This online iteration provides a snapshot of Indian artists in Britain from varied backgrounds and across different time periods. Modernists, such as F.N. Souza and S.K. Bakre, lived in the UK only briefly, whilst others, such as the Singh Twins, are second generation Britishers who consider this country to be their home. Meanwhile, global figures such as Anish Kapoor, feel they are ‘just’ artists, for whom questions of national belonging are incidental. The exhibition includes a cross- generational range of practitioners, who work across diverse media and with differing approaches to the question of identity; of being an ‘Indian’ artist in Britain. The exhibition is co-curated by painter, Shanti Panchal with advice from Dr Zehra Jumabhoy, Courtauld Institute, London. It is part of South Asian Heritage Month 2020.

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    Friends and Influences

    BURU (the Ben Uri Research Unit) presents Friends and Influences, the third in our series of snapshot survey exhibitions exploring a particular aspect of the Jewish and immigrant contribution to the visual arts in Britain since 1900. This display brings together paintings, drawings, etchings and lithographs by a selected group of artists united by ties of ethnicity, background, training, teaching and/or exhibiting platforms, as well as through their mutual and enduring friendships, who helped reinvigorate the post-war British art scene and are today celebrated as among the 20th/21st century’s finest exponents of the figurative tradition. Their work is examined both through their mutual friendships, and through their relationship to and conscious engagement with artists of an older generation, whose profound influence upon their own work they openly acknowledged. Thus a line of descent can be traced from the old masters, such as Dürer and Rembrandt, to the new – from Ecole de Paris artists headed by Soutine, thence to ‘Whitechapel Boy’ David Bomberg, and finally, through him to Frank Auerbach and the late, and much missed, Leon Kossoff, who sadly passed away on 4th July 2019. The display focuses on portraits from a close circle of sitters including friends and family by selected so-called ‘School of London’ artists. They are represented here by Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and R. B. Kitaj, who first coined this controversial label (disputed by the majority of its ‘members’) in 1976. This is only one of a number of common bonds: all the artists shared a Jewish and immigrant background: Berlin-born Auerbach and Freud both fled Nazi-Germany for Britain in the 1930s; Kossoff was born to Russian immigrant parents in Islington; and Kitaj, born in Ohio, USA, trained at art school in England, as did New York-born Sandra Fisher, who became his second wife. During the Second World War, Freud, as a nineteen-year-old, served as a merchant seaman in the Atlantic convoy (1940-41). Later, the seventeen-year-old Kitaj also served as a merchant seaman with a Norwegian freighter in 1949.

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    100 for 100: Ben Uri, Past, Present and Future

    From 21 May until 9 June 2016, at the generous invitation of Christie's, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum presents a unique exhibition celebrating its past, present and future sharing the vision driving the museum into its second millennium. Bringing together 100 works for 100 years, the majority from the celebrated permanent collection, augmented by a number of generous loans from contemporary artists from émigré and refugee backgrounds, the exhibition displays 100 works by some 90 artists across a range of media and practices, highlighting the significant and continuing relationship between immigration and art.

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    Interstices - Discovering the Ben Uri Collection, Curated by René Gimpel

    'The Ben Uri collection is a treasure trove. It’s an honour and a privilege to be invited to delve into it, with carte blanche as to my selection for this exhibition. After several days sifting through the image library, I settled on two criteria. One based on aesthetic considerations; the other, on singling out artworks corresponding to a personal narrative. Inevitably, the two overlap because I consider the choices all to have artistic merit and this being a personal selection, it reflects my values. The professional, the political and the personal intertwine.' René Gimpel, September 2020

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    Out of Chaos - Ben Uri: 100 Years in London

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    Migrations: masterworks from the Ben Uri Collection

    Ben Uri is delighted to be working in partnership with GARAS, Gloucester Museum and Gloucester City Council to present the exhibition Migrations: masterworks from the Ben Uri Collection (3 October 2019 – 28 January 2020). This important exhibition marks two significant anniversaries: the twentieth year of refugee organisation GARAS and the introduction of the Kindertransport which, between December 1938 and September 1939, brought some 10,000 Jewish refugee children to Britain. Ben Uri’s own history is one of migration: founded in London’s East End in 1915 by Jewish Eastern-European émigré artisans working outside the cultural mainstream, who went on to form a significant collection of works by artists of British and European Jewish descent. Since 2000, the remit has expanded to include works by immigrants from a wide range of cultural, religious and geographical backgrounds. 2019 has also seen the launch of the newly formed Ben Uri Research Unit for the Study of the Jewish and immigrant contribution to the Visual Arts in Britain since 1900. Migrations presents paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture from the Ben Uri Collection exploring three principal waves of migration to Britain: the first, reflects the years, c. 1880-1914, when immigrants of principally Jewish Eastern-European descent, settled in London’s East End, including Ben Uri’s founder Russian-Jewish émigré Lazar Berson, and members of the home-grown ‘Whitechapel Boys’, among them painters David Bomberg and Mark Gertler, and sculptor Jacob Epstein. The second wave reflects the artistic contribution of the so-called ‘Hitler-émigrés’, who between 1933 and 1945, fled racial, artistic or political persecution in their native lands. This included both established artists, such as Martin Bloch, Hugo Dachinger and Margaret Marks, and younger refugees who went on to train and work in Britain, including Frank Auerbach and Eva Frankfurther, as well as Kindertransportees Kathe Strenitz and Harry Weinberger. The third wave reflects contemporary migration, with artists including painter Tam Joseph, photographer/performance artist Güler Ates and collagist Hormazd Narielwalla.

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    Finchleystrasse - German artists in exile in Great Britain and Beyond, 1933–45

    Between 1933 and 1945 whether for religious, political or artistic reasons, over 300 painters, sculptors and graphic artists fled into exile or immigrated to Great Britain from Nazi Germany. This followed the appointment of Adolf Hitler as German Chancellor in January 1933, the introduction of anti-Semitic legislation and the foundation of the Reichskulturkammer (the Reich Chamber of Culture) to which all professional artists and designers had to belong and which effectively banned all Jews, Communists, Social Democrats and ‘avant-garde’ artists from working in Germany. This exhibition brings together paintings, drawings and graphics by a number of primarily German-Jewish artists who made such ‘forced journeys’ during this era, mostly to Great Britain, but also beyond to destinations including Australia, China, Jerusalem and the United States. One prominent exception is Max Liebermann, the celebrated German Impressionist, who did not leave his native country but, was forced to resign his post as Head of the Prussian Academy, and died two years later in 1935. Other featured refugee artists include Frank Auerbach, today one of Britain’s most respected and best-known artists, but the exhibition also uncovers the exile narrative of many lesser-known artists, whose fractured careers and loss of reputation often resulted from their forced migrations, sometimes through more than one country of transit. The works on show have been drawn principally from the Ben Uri Collection, demonstrating the refugee contribution to both the collection and the institution's own exhibiting culture; both were profoundly changed in this period by what Chairman Israel Sieff termed the ‘Nazi philosophy’.

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    Josef Herman

    Painter and draughtsman Josef Herman was born into a working-class Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland in 1911. He studied at Warsaw School of Art and Decoration (1930-31), and first exhibited in his native city in 1932. After experiencing rising anti-Semitism, he left Poland for Brussels in 1938, never to see his family again. He arrived in Glasgow in 1940, where he was reunited with fellow Polish artist Jankel Adler, whom he had known briefly in Warsaw; together they contributed to a vital resurgence of the Scottish arts scene during this period. Herman’s Glasgow work nostalgically evoked his lost Warsaw, drawing strongly on his eastern European Jewish heritage and themes. In 2011 Ben Uri mounted the largest exhibition to date of Herman’s work from this rare period, although the painting Refugees – thought lost for more than 60 years – only came to light in 2014. In 1943 Herman moved to London, where he exhibited with L S Lowry at the Lefevre galleries before resettling the following year in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais in 1944, where he remained until 1955, giving rise to his best-known body of work, focusing on the Welsh miners and their community. Herman's work was included in the South Bank Festival of Britain Exhibition in 1951 and he exhibited widely including with the emigre art dealers Roland, Browse & Delbanco (1946, 1948, 1952, then regularly until 1975), in London: with Ben Uri (including alongside Martin Bloch in 1949), at the Geffrye Museum (with Henry Moore, 1954), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1956), the Camden Arts Centre (1980), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (1989), Abbot Hall, Kendal (2005), and frequently with Flowers and Flowers East Galleries. His work is represented in many collections including London (Tate, V&A), Wales (National Museum), Scotland (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art); as well as in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and South Africa. Josef Herman died in London in 2000.

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    Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe - Between Figuration and Abstraction

    The exhibition is a collaboration between the Alfred Cohen Art Foundation, the Ben Uri Research Unit (part of Ben Uri Gallery and Museum), the Sainsbury Centre, the Centre for American Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, and the Culture Team and the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London. Alfred Cohen (1920-2001) came to Europe after the Second World War, arriving in London in 1960. This exhibition celebrates Cohen's centenary, charting the main phases of his career. It highlights his reflections on key modern art movements - Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstraction - resulting in a powerful body of distinctive work. His exhibitions of panoramic Thames riverscapes and powerful commedia dell'arte figures were critically acclaimed and sold out, often to celebrity clients. Later, he moved to the country, focusing on the British landscape and the Channel coasts, interiors, people, and flowers.

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    Chaïm Soutine and his Contemporaries from Russia to Paris

    To celebrate the museum’s acquisition of Soutine’s La Soubrette, c. 1933, the exhibition, from Russia to Paris: Chaïm Soutine and his Contemporaries unveils this important portrait together with a small selection of work from the Ben Uri collection by a number of Soutine’s peers: all either born (like Chagall) within Russia, or (like Soutine himself) in countries then within the Russian Pale of Settlement. In flight from the poverty, persecution and restrictions of their native lands, they converged on Paris, the ‘City of Light’, in search of personal and artistic freedom, mostly (though not exclusively) in the first two decades of the twentieth-century. There they formed part of the loose association of émigré artists known collectively as the École de Paris, the majority (among them Chagall, Dobrinksy, Henri Epstein, Kikoïne, Isaac Lichtenstein, Lipchitz and Soutine) living and working together in the collection of studios known as La Ruche (‘the Beehive’) near the old Vaugirard slaughterhouses of Montparnasse. Many (probably including Ben Uri’s founder Lazar Berson) also studied under Professor Cormon at the École des Beaux-Arts and exhibited (like Chagall) at the progressive salon d’automne; together they had a profound influence on twentieth-century figurative art. As Avram Kampf has observed ‘Jewish artists, because of their common language and common background, tended to meet frequently. Some historians speak about an enclave of Jewish artists, others about a Jewish School of Paris. The gathering of a relatively large number of Jewish artists in Paris is a fact of twentieth-century art and of Jewish social and cultural history’. Many stayed on (often applying for French citizenship) until the events of the Second World War forced them to flee or to hide; a much smaller number remained after the Liberation. Nonetheless, the importance of this group (beyond the influence of leading figures Soutine and Chagall) is perhaps best demonstrated by the second wave of the Ecole de Paris (outside the scope of this exhibition), which rose up in the aftermath of the Second World War.

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    Uproar! The first 50 years of the London Group 1913-1963

    Ben Uri is honoured to present Uproar! The first 50 Years of The London Group 1913‒63, showcasing 50 works by 50 artists during this half century. The exhibition marks the Group's centenary and its first minuted meeting on 25 October 1913. Founded as an alternative to the existing art establishment, the Group's turbulent early years reflect the controversial emergence of early British modernism and the experimental work of many of its members. The often inflammatory language of the press is exemplified by the 'uproar' which followed Mark Gertler's exhibition of The Creation of Eve at the Group's third show in 1915, which lends its name to our own exhibition exploring the Group's early history. This partnership between Ben Uri and The London Group is a revealing reflection on both institutions' early and entwined histories. The London Group was founded by fresh-minded and free-spirited artists from the Camden Town Group and others experimenting with Cubism and Futurism. They were determined to embrace the new practice and movements arriving from Europe and from France in particular, to set a new agenda for a new century. However, their exhibiting opportunities in the mainstream were significantly restricted by an establishment dominated by the Royal Academy which was intent on maintaining the status quo. Coming together to form The London Group, it quickly became a magnet and an exhibiting forum for artists who were often considered rebellious by the establishment, and even in some quarters, notorious, during these early seminal decades in Britain. Ben Uri was founded less than two years later, in July 1915, in the Jewish ghetto in London's East End, also in response to establishment prejudice and exhibiting restrictions. In this instance the artists themselves were 'outsiders' (irrespective of their artistic practice) - Jews, and what was probably considered worse, mostly immigrants or the children of foreign- speaking immigrants. Among them were a number of young Jewish artists committed to pushing artistic boundaries, including David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler and Jacob Kramer - now better known as 'The Whitechapel Boys' - who were immediately drawn to the artistic freedom and intellectual vigour of this new milieu. It was Jacob Epstein, the American émigré, who is credited with coining the name 'London Group' at a Group meeting, held on 15 November 1913. These same artists played significant historical roles during the first two decades of both The London Group and Ben Uri, and today, with extraordinary works of national significance, still represent the backbone of Ben Uri's 1300-strong collection. One hundred years later, most of the 50 'radical' artists exhibited in Uproar! are cornerstones of twentieth-century British modernism and a benchmark of respectability.

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    Golden Drawings and The Coviad by David Breuer-Weil

    The Coviad is a contemporary version of the Bayeux Tapestry for the age of Covid, and of identical size - some 350,000 square centimetres. The Coviad was executed prior to the current debate about the proposed restoration of the Bayeux Tapestry in the UK, making it uncannily relevant. This epic work, executed in pencil and gold leaf, and one of the largest drawings in history, tells of the experiences of the last year in breath-taking detail. From the mysterious origins of the pandemic, to its global spread, the artist transforms many symbols that appear in the tapestry into contemporary icons. The Coviad, the title being a pun on the epic poem, The Iliad, charts the spread of the pandemic carried by planes, boats and people, the lockdowns, divisions into support bubbles, Thursday night clapping in support of the NHS, the masked population, daily walks, separation from loved ones and tragic fatalities. It also portrays significant concurrent events, the murder of George Floyd, the protests and toppling of statues and general physical and mental health instability. The artist, who contracted Covid-19 during Spring 2020, also engages with biblical comparisons and uses imagery of the Passover to particularly relevant effect, the 10 plagues and the evils of slavery. The Coviad ends on a positive note as the vaccines arrive like angels from heaven and the world returns to an unknown form of normality. No one knows what the new normal will be as people enter their old lives with inevitable and understandable trepidation. The last of the 70 connected panels sees a telescope looking at Perseverance landing on Mars, a symbol of hope for the future. The Coviad is exhibited here literally just weeks after its completion (during the third lockdown) and stands as a testament to the threat to humanity in our time.

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    Internment - In memory of Eva Aldbrook 1925-2020

    On the 80th anniversary of internment in Britain, Ben Uri is celebrating the many artist internees who are represented within its permanent collection through this online exhibition. At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, some 74,000 former German and Austrian citizens who resided in Britain – many who had arrived as refugees from Nazi persecution – were registered as ‘enemy aliens’ and categorised by regional tribunals, according to the level of security risk that they supposedly presented. Months later, in late spring 1940, the fear of invasion after the fall of France, concern for Fifth Column activity and resulting media agitation, led to the sudden and dramatic implementation of the Government’s mass internment policy. In the wake of newly elected Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s directive to ‘Collar the Lot!’, 27,000 emigres were apprehended and even so-called ‘friendly aliens’ were faced with immediate incarceration. With an imperfect system in place, wholesale and haphazard arrests occurred nationwide, cutting across categories, gender, families, generations, professions, religion, and political alignment, and often regardless of an individual’s well-being. Transit camps were swiftly established on the mainland - some in wholly unsuitable locations such as Kempton and Ascot racecourses, Huyton in an unoccuppied Liverpool council housing estate, and Warth Mills, an abandoned cotton mill outside Manchester – from where many internees were transferred to more permanent locations in Britain and distant parts of the Commonwealth, including Australia and Canada. Numerous émigré artists, designers and architects were inevitably caught up in this process – including those whom the Hitler regime had previously designated as ‘degenerate’ – left-wing, modernist and/or Jewish, whose work was banned – and many were shipped to the Isle of Man. The island thus found itself, at its peak in August 1940, as unwitting home to c. 14,000 men, women and children in ten camps, mostly requisitioned seaside boarding houses around Douglas: Hutchinson (the so-called ‘artists’ camp’, due to the number of renowned practitioners it housed), Onchan, Palace, Metropole, Central Promenade, Sefton and Granville, together with Peveril Camp in Peel, and Mooragh Camp in Ramsey. Around 4,000 women (including Erna Nonnenmacher and Pamina Liebert-Mahrenholz) were interned in Rushen camp, in the south west of the island, comprising Port Erin and Port St. Mary. Remarkably quickly, the internees established a cultural life across the camps. According to one statistic, 8.6% of Onchan internees were artists, writers and authors. Furthermore, the presence of distinguished academics from a range of disciplines, in camps such as Hutchinson and Onchan, resulted in a flourishing and intellectual milieu within which art would secure its own important position. Martin Bloch (1883-1954), Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966), Alfred Lomnitz (1892-1953), Hugo ‘Puck’ Dachinger (1908-1995) and Walter Nessler (1912-2001) all passed through Huyton, while Hutchinson boasted the greatest number of artists with international reputations, notably: Dadaist, Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948); Ludwig Meidner, the leading expressionist, and figurative sculptors, Georg Ehrlich (1897-1966) and Siegfried Charoux (1896-1967); as well as artists whose names are less familiar today: painter, Erich Kahn (1904-1980), Herman Fechenbach (1897-1986), painter and printmaker; sculptors, Ernst Blensdorf (1896-1976) and Paul Hamann (1891-1973); printmaker and engraver, Hellmuth Weissenborn (1898-1982); and painter/art historian, Fritz Solomonski (1899-1980) who became Ben Uri's first salaried secretary/curator in 1944. Onchan’s artists and designers, embracing a younger generation, included: Ernst Eisenmayer (1920-2018); graphic designer, F H K Henrion (1914-1990); sculptor, Hermann Nonnenmacher (1892-1988); printmaker, Klaus Meyer (1918-2002), and Jack Bilbo (1907-1967), the flamboyant camp impresario who organised art exhibitions and a cabaret behind the wire; while camp publications provided further creative outlets for text and image. Internment art was characterised by the artists’ use of improvised materials, ranging from toothpaste, vegetable dyes, and brick dust mixed with oil from sardine cans, for pigments; twigs burnt to make charcoal sticks; wiry beard hair for brushes, and newspaper as a ground to paint and draw on. Sixteen artists – both men and women – included in Ben Uri’s collection were either themselves interned, or depicted former internees, creating a rich and unique visual resource documenting this difficult time in British wartime history.

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    Bernard Meninsky

    Bernard Meninsky (née Menushkin) was born in 1891 in Karotopin, Ukraine and came to England when he was six weeks old, settling with his family in Liverpool. In 1906 he entered the Liverpool School of Art, where he won a number of awards including a travel scholarship enabling him to study for three months in Paris in 1911. The following year, a further scholarship enabled him to study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where he met and mixed with several 'Whitechapel Boys' including David Bomberg and Mark Gertler. In 1913, he briefly taught drawing in Italy, then returned to London to take up a teaching post at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, also joining the progressive exhibiting society, the London Group. During the First World War, Meninsky joined the Royal Fusiliers and fought in Palestine. In 1918 he was recruited as an official war artist and carried out several commissions, but after suffering a nervous breakdown, was discharged from service. He held his first solo exhibition in 1919. Meninsky devoted much of his time to teaching drawing, but also painted portraits, figures and landscapes (the latter became dark and atmospheric in the 1920s and '30s). In 1946, his illustrations to Milton's poems were published, showing his favoured monumental, neo-classical style. Although he continued to exhibit he suffered a series of mental breakdowns, and, eventually, took his own life in 1950 at the age of 58.

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    Yalta 1945 by Komar & Melamid

    Ben Uri is honoured to launch the world tour of this seminal monumental installation of Yalta 1945 from 1986-87, previously exhibited at documenta 8 in 1987 and at Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York in 1990, and not presented in public since, until now. Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid both graduated from the Stroganov Institute of Arts and Design in Moscow in 1967 when they first exhibited together at Moscow’s Blue Bird Café. They are amongst the Soviet Union’s most important non-conformist artists: founding ‘Sots Art’ which merged Socialist Realism, politicized Pop, and Conceptual art. In their multi-stylistic works of ‘conceptual eclecticism’, begun in 1972 and developed in Yalta 1945, they have become inventors of early post-modernism. In 1974 they were expelled from the youth section of the Soviet Artists Union. In the same year they participated in the unofficial exhibition ‘The Bulldozer Show’ in the suburbs of Moscow to great controversy and their double self-portraits as Lenin and Stalin were ruined by order of the State. In 1976 they had their first exhibition at the Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York. In 1977 they emigrated to Israel and created a work titled ‘The Third Temple’. In 1978 they settled in New York and founded the Society of Buyers and Sellers of Human Souls working with Andy Warhol and others. In 1981-83, they created work reflecting the origins of Russian social realism from which this major sardonic and ground breaking installation emerged. Their career, together until 2003 and individually since, is synonymous with challenging establishment and traditional thinking with a cutting wit and piercing satire, in a post-Soviet and perestroika world. See komarandmelamid.org.

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    ART-EXIT 1939: A Very Different Europe

    This exhibition shines a spotlight on a very different Europe in 1939 and the forced journeys made by many of central Europe’s most distinguished, talented and pioneering artists, who escaped tyranny in search of artistic and personal freedoms. Elsa Fraenkel, Jacob Bornfriend, Hugo Dachinger, Ernst Eisenmayer, Lucian Freud, Henryk Gotlib, George Grosz, Josef Herman, Dora Holzhandler, Oskar Kokoschka, Heinz Koppel, Ludwig Meidner, Kurt Schwitters, Arthur Segal, Chaim Soutine, Elisabeth Tomalin, Harry Weinberger.

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    Rediscovering Wolmark - A Pioneer of British Modernism

    Alfred Aaron Wolmark was born into a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland in 1877, and moved to England in 1883, first to Devon and then to the East End of London. He trained at the Royal Academy from 1895-1899 (where he added the English 'Alfred' to his name), exhibiting there between 1901 and 1936, as well as with the Allied Artists Association (from 1908-16) and the International Society (from 1911-25). He held his first solo exhibition at Bruton Galleries in London in 1905 and from 1907 began to exhibit widely within both Germany and the UK. Wolmark's teenage years in London’s East End and two lengthy stays in his native Poland between 1903-06, had a huge visual and spiritual, impact on his early Rembrandtesque work and Jewish subject matter. In July 1911, however, after an artistic epiphany on honeymoon in Concarneau, Brittany, Wolmark jettisoned his early methods in favour of the ‘New Art’ and embarked upon the pioneering 'colourist' path that he followed for the next two decades of his working life.

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    Teacher and Pupil: David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach

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    Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

    A Russian-Jewish immigrant, Kramer arrived in Britain in 1900. He studied at Leeds School of Art and briefly at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, supported by modernist collector and Vice Chancellor of Leeds University Michael Sadler and the Jewish Education Aid Society. His Slade associates included ‘Whitechapel Boys’ Mark Gertler and David Bomberg, with whom he exhibited in 1914 as part of the ‘Jewish Section’ in a review of modern movements at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. In 1915 he was invited to exhibit with the Vorticists and published in Wyndham Lewis' journal Blast. During the First World War, he spent a short time as a regimental librarian, a post facilitated by Herbert Read. His most celebrated painting, The Day of Atonement, draws on contemporary influences including Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism to capture the display of devotion during the most solemn day in the Jewish religious calendar using a new modernist vocabulary. In his later years, Kramer became a well-known figure in Leeds carrying out characteristic portraits of Leeds locals and notable visitors.

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    Selected works by Eva Frankfurther (1930-1959)

    Two contexts inform the life and work of Eva Frankfurther: the decade through which she lived and worked in 1950s' Britain and its concern with the realist tradition, and the German heritage from which as an exile she was forcibly separated at a young age but to which she was instinctively drawn.

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    German Refugee Artists to Britain since 1900

    This exhibition brings together artworks and archival material by an array of both celebrated and lesser-known German-born refugee artists, principally from the Ben Uri Collection, supplemented by important external loans from both public and private lenders. Paintings, posters, prints, drawings, cartoons, book illustrations and sculptures explore issues of identity and migration via the German refugee experience in England, with oral testimonies from three generations of German migrants.

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    Thirty-six Pounds and Ninety-five Pence - Artworks by Contemporary Migrant Artists

    Nigel Ellis (1960-) Hush 2008 Oil on canvas 151 x 100.5 cm Ben Uri Collection © Nigel Ellis To see and discover more about this artist click here View works In honour of Refugee Week, Ben Uri Gallery and New Art Studio celebrate "our shared future" through a partnership of refugee and asylum seekers' artwork. Contrary to common belief, asylum seekers are not allowed to work and receive just £36.95 a week in food vouchers. The paired works in this exhibition, from Ben Uri's collection and the New Art Studio, reflect the resilience and sensitivity of the migrant's story: one of loss and hope.

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    Yiddish, the language, the people and heritage

    This online exhibition, Yiddish: the language, people and heritage, explores Ben Uri's extensive collections of artworks and archives, both more than a century old, with unique pieces reflecting the prevailing cultural heritage of the organisation's founders: émigré Lazar Berson and his Yiddish speaking co-religionists, Eastern-european artisans and businessmen, fleeing pogroms in the Russian Pale of Settlement. 'The Jewish-National Decorative Art Association (London) Ben Ouri', was established in Whitechapel in London's East End ghetto in 1915, within a dynamic Yiddish-speaking community, born out of this first wave of Jewish migration. Ben Uri's varied activities were regularly promoted in the Yiddish press (Morris Myer, editor of Di Tsayt, was closely associated with the society; his artist son studied at the Slade and participated in its early exhibitions), while the East End's renowned Yiddish theatres, including the Pavilion in Whitechapel Road, provided the inspiration and underlying compositional structure for key works such as David Bomberg's Ghetto Theatre, acquired directly from the artist in 1920. Ben Uri itself embraced Yiddish at the core of its earliest activities, publishing its first constitution, writing its earliest minutes from 1916, creating a fundraising 'Albom' in Yiddish, and acquiring carved wooden objects made by Berson and the Ben Uri Studio, engraved with celebratory texts in Hebrew and Yiddish. Fellow émigré and Ben Uri co-founder, Edward Goodack, proprietor of the West End jewellers' Cameo Corner, who financially supported many important early acquisitions for Ben Uri's collection, was an ardent champion of Yiddish culture. Taking the Yiddish pen name 'Moshe Oved', he published and supported Yiddish authors, as well as writing his own autobiography in Yiddish. Ben Uri's important 1930 catalogue (its second publication after the 1925 catalogue for the opening exhibition of the permanent collection in Great Russell Street) was published in both English and Yiddish (with two separate cover designs by Alfred Wolmark). It included an essay by renowned Yiddishist, Leo Koenig on "Jews and Plastic Art" and on Ben Uri, its history and activities, by co-founder, Judah Beach (originally Judah Phibish). While Hebrew had been reserved for prayer and religious study in Hassidic yeshivas in Eastern Europe, Yiddish became the language of daily village (shtetl) life for Ashkenazi Jews and the vehicle for re-telling marvellous stories of the Hasidic masters. It also became the lingua franca of the émigrés who took refuge in London from the late nineteenth century, in search of religious and economic freedoms in Europe and the New World. Using the Hebrew alphabet and based on the German language with Russian, Polish and other inclusions and variations, Yiddish provided a rich literary culture at the time of Ben Uri's establishment, coinciding with a repertory of renowned 'modern' poets such as Sholem Aleichem (who died in 1916), Sholem Asch and I L Peretz, as well as historical writers. A number of Yiddishists connected with Ben Uri, including Leo Koenig, also participated in Renesans, the first Yiddish art and literary magazine in Britain, published over six issues in 1920, and in which contemporary exhibitions by young artists from the ghetto, such as Mark Gertler, were reviewed. In 1908, the first international conference on the Yiddish language had declared Yiddish to be 'a national language of the Jewish people.' In 1925, YIVO, the Yiddish Scientific Institute, was founded in Vilna, Lithuania, as the foremost institution for Yiddish scholarship. Relocating to New York in 1940 following the outbreak of war in Europe, today it retains original versions of Ben Uri's early minutes in Yiddish, which it has made available for translation into English. In an example of apt circularity, according to the Jewish Chronicle, a YIVO exhibition promoting archive material opened on 27 September 1953 at Ben Uri's Portman Street premises. In September 1939, there were approximately 13 million Yiddish speakers worldwide; the Holocaust destroyed most of this population. Fortuitously, the first wave of émigrés to Britain were naturally at home in the language, and many Hitler émigrés from the second wave, including artists Josef Herman and Jankel Adler, and the writer Avram Stencl, who had originated in Poland or Russia, also spoke Yiddish. For them, the shortlived Ohel Club, founded in 1942 and based in Gower Street, provided another gathering point where they could share a common language and be part of a Yiddish revival. Ben Uri was also connected to Ohel, whose founders were the Society's Chairman, Polish émigré Alexander Margulies(1902‒1991) and his brother, Benzion (1890‒1955). Yiddish culture continued to permeate Ben Uri's activities, with the creation of a 'Friends of Yiddish' group in late 1947 which hosted regular events until 1966. An undated group photograph in Ben Uri's archives is annotated with the names of key figures, including Stencl.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Rothenstein's Relevance

    Artist, writer, teacher and consummate networker, Sir William Rothenstein was a leading British artist in the years before the First World War and a highly influential and well connected figure throughout his career. The exhibition examines a number of his major themes including Jewish subjects, portraiture and figures studies (in Paris, London and Gloucestershire) and work from the First and Second World Wars contextualized by work on similar themes by a number of (mostly younger) contemporaries including Mark Gertler, Jacob Kramer, Eric Kennington, Albert Rutherston and Alfred Wolmark, who were all either influenced directly by or worked alongside Rothenstein.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Refiguring the 50s

    Refiguring the 50s featured works by Joan Eardley, Sheila Fell, Eva Frankfurther, Josef Herman and L.S. Lowry; five figurative artists working in Britain in the 1950s, who each had a strong identification with the place in which they chose to live and work and which formed, for a significant part of their careers, the primary focus of their practice. Each artist was associated with a particular place: Eardley – Townhead in Glasgow; Fell, the mining community and landscape of her native Aspatria, Cumbria; Frankfurther– London’s East End and its multi-cultural working-class communities; Herman– Ystradgynlais in South Wales with its indigenous mining community; and Lowry– his hometown of Manchester and its industrial, multi-peopled cityscape. This exhibition links these five artists by uncovering a network of relationships, both personal and professional, and their shared exploration of particular artistic concerns and motifs. This exhibition is one of the outcomes of the Eva Frankfurther Research and Curatorial Fellowship for the Study of Emigré Artists.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    A Farewell to Art: Chagall, Shakespeare and Prospero

    A Farewell to Art: Chagall, Shakespeare and Prospero is the first UK exhibition of a rare limited edition portfolio by Marc Chagall which features 50 illustrations created to reflect his interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The exhibition draws on a number of themes including the relationship between Shakespeare’s Renaissance characters and Chagall’s own imaginary mythological world. Chagall saw Shakespeare’s Tempest as symbolic of the tempest that engulfed his own life and the traumatic experiences of European Jews in the first half of the twentieth century.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Art and the Holocaust

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Out of Austria - Austrian Artists in Exile in Great Britain

    Marking the 80th anniversary of the Anschluss (annexation of Austria), the exhibition Out of Austria brings together around 40 works by more than 20 Austrian artists who fled to Great Britain during the era of National Socialism, examining their experiences, careers, impact and legacy as émigré artists in the UK. It showcases some of the painters, sculptors and graphic artists, who fled to the UK, during this era, highlighting works primarily from the Ben Uri Collection, with key external loans from public collections including Bishop Otter Gallery, University of Chichester, the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Trust and Senate House Library, as well as works (some never previously exhibited) from private collections. The display features paintings, graphics, sculptures and ceramics by artists including Siegfried Charoux, Hugo Dachinger, Georg Ehrlich, Ernst Eisenmayer, Oskar Kokoschka, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Lucie Rie, Bruno Simon and Willi Soukop.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Biblical Stories

    Ben Uri Gallery and Museum is honoured to launch an exhibition of Israeli born artist Adi Nes’s seminal ‘Biblical Stories’ series from 2006. Born of Iranian parents and raised in Kiryat Gat, Israel, Nes has become internationally recognised for the bold and emotive way in which his photography confronts controversial issues. Nes’s inspiration comes from a wide variety of sources, from his own memories and experiences to current events and the world around him. In ‘Biblical Stories’, Nes draws upon classical and religious stories to launch critical examinations.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Reinvesting in New Acquisitions and Long-term Loans

    The exhibition showcases key recent new acquisitions and long-term loans to the Ben Uri Collection, arranged to reflect both Ben Uri's own history and three principal waves of migration to the UK. The first wave of Jewish migration to the East End, c. 1870-1914 is represented by objects including two rare carved wooden plates - one by Ben Uri's founder Lazar Berson and the second by the Ben Uri Studio, five superb paintings by ‘Whitechapel Boy’ Mark Gertler from the Luke Gertler Bequest (on loan with Art Fund support), and three post-First World War works by fellow ‘Whitechapel Boy’ David Bomberg, including a fine Jerusalem landscape. The so-called ‘Hitler émigrés’, who came to the UK, principally in the mid to late 1930s, are represented by artists including Polish-born Henryk Gotlib, Jankel Adler and Marek Szwarc, German sculptors Benno Elkan and Fred Kormis, Hungarian sculptor Peter Lazlo Peri, and German collagist Kurt Schwitters. The display also includes contemporary works by Iran-born Zory Shahrokhi - part of her commissioned response to the exhibition Liberators: 12 Extraordinary Women Artists from the Ben Uri Collection (2018), and a self-portrait by painter Moich Abrahams, photography by Marion Davies, Irving Penn and Edith Tudor-Hart, and works on paper by Arnold Auerbach, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Solomon Hart, Halina Korn, Marevna, William Rothenstein and Stephen Roth.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Mark Gertler and the Whitechapel Boys

    BURU (the Ben Uri Research Unit) is delighted to present the exhibition, Mark Gertler: Paintings from the Luke Gertler Bequest & Selected Important UK Collections, curated by Sarah MacDougall, the artist's biographer and cataloguer. This exhibition marks the 80th anniversary of the artist’s death and showcases five important paintings from the estate of the artist’s son, Luke Gertler (1932–2017), on loan with Art Fund support: The Artist’s Parents (c. 1909–10), The Artist’s Brother, Harry (c. 1911), Daffodils in a Blue Bottle (1916), Trees at Sanatorium, Scotland (1921) and The Coster Woman (1923), which have provided the catalyst and context for the current show. Together, these paintings, executed between c. 1908 and 1924, represent the major themes and motifs of Gertler’s early career: portraiture (particularly of members of his own family), the still life, and the landscape, spanning Gertler’s personal and artistic journey from the East End to Hampstead via the Slade School of Fine Art. These loans are complemented by paintings and drawings from the Jerwood Collection and selected important UK private collections, as well as the Ben Uri Collection, with a particular focus on the fine draughtsmanship that underlies Gertler’s oeuvre. Highlights include Head of a Girl (1910, Jerwood Collection – formerly in the Collection of Paul Nash), the study for The Violinist (1912, Private Collection), further separate drawings of both sitters for Gertler’s much-loved, Rabbi and Grandchild (1913, both Private Collections), Ben Uri’s celebrated Rabbi and Rabbitzin (1914), figurative drawings for Gertler’s best-known painting, Merry-Go-Round (1915, 1916), a Coster Woman study (1924), and a head of the writer Arnold Bennett (c. 1927). These works are further contextualised by a display of Collection works relating to the wider circle of the 'Whitechapel Boys'.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Liberators: Extraordinary Women Artists from the Ben Uri Collection

    This exhibition celebrates the lives, courage and strength of character, across so many human endeavours, of extraordinary women artists from the Ben Uri Collection. Liberators explores the lives and works of twelve of these extraordinary women, spanning two waves of Jewish migration and the social, political, religious and artistic upheavals of the first half of the twentieth-century.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Emmanuel Levy: A Manchester artist

    Emmanuel Levy was born in Hightown, Manchester, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, in 1900. Like his contemporary Jacob Kramer, he was one of a small group of Jewish artists, whose families, fleeing persecution, restrictive legislation and economic hardship settled in the north of England as part of the wider Jewish migration to Britain at the close of the nineteenth century. He grew up in, and closely identified with the area immortalized by the Jewish writer Louis Golding in his best-selling novel Magnolia Street (1932), which Levy later adapted as a radio play. Levy’s father was the beadle at the Great Synagogue, Cheetham Hill and he attended the local Jews’ Free School, before studying with L. S. Lowry at Manchester School of Art under Adolphe Valette (c. 1918), then at St Martin’s School of Art in London, and, afterwards, in Paris; he returned to Manchester for his first solo show in 1925. In 1928 Levy, recommended by Valette (whom he succeeded), was appointed a special instructor in life drawing at Manchester University School of Architecture, and gave popular public demonstrations in portrait painting. From 1929, for several years, he was Art Critic for Manchester City News and the Evening News. Throughout his 60-year career, he was closely associated with his native city and Lord Ardwick described him as ‘a Manchester man through and through. But’, he continued, ‘there is nothing provincial or even distinctly English in his work. He is a citizen of the world’. Although he experimented with Cubism and Surrealism, Levy later abandoned these styles in favour of naturalism, specializing in figurative work exploring the human condition. He held six solo exhibitions in Manchester between 1925 and 1963. He also exhibited in London, including at Ben Uri, where his work was shown on numerous occasions from 1935 onwards, and he had solo shows in 1953, in 1978 and (posthumously) in 1989; in 2014 Ben Uri curated a solo exhibition of his work at the Jewish Museum Manchester. Emmanuel Levy died in London in 1986.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Frank Auerbach from the Ben Uri Collection

    Frank Auerbach was born in Berlin to Jewish parents in 1931 and immigrated to England in 1939 (naturalised in 1947); his parents, who remained behind, subsequently perished in concentration camps. Auerbach spent his childhood at Bunce Court, a progressive boarding school in Kent for Jewish refugee children. He attended St Martin’s School of Art (1948-52) and studied at David Bomberg’s evening classes at Borough Polytechnic together with Leon Kossoff, as well as at the Royal College of Art from 1952-55. Shortly after completing his studies, he was given his first solo exhibition (1956) by dealer Helen Lessore at the Beaux- Arts Gallery, where he exhibited regularly until 1963, and then at Marlborough Galleries from 1965 to the present. He has had retrospectives at the Hayward Gallery (1978), Tate (2016) and solo exhibitions at the British Pavilion in the 1986 Venice Biennale and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (1989). His work is represented in collections throughout the UK and USA. Frank Auerbach lives and works in London.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    Czech Routes to Britain

    Czech Routes is the fourth in Ben Uri’s series of exhibitions designed to highlight the contribution of émigré artists to Britain since 1900. Featuring the work of 21 painters, printmakers and sculptors, many of whom fled to Britain as racial and political refugees from National Socialism, Czech Routes marks the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia on 15th March 1939.

  • Ben Uri Research Unit

    David Bomberg: A Pioneer of Modernism

    David Bomberg was born to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents in Birmingham, England, in 1890. The family moved to Whitechapel in 1895, where he became prominent among the ‘Whitechapel Boys’ - a group of young, Jewish, mainly immigrant artists who were either born, raised or worked in the East End in the first two decades of the 20th century, and who, both collectively, and individually, made an important contribution to British modernism. As a young man, Bomberg was initially apprenticed as a chromolithographer, attending night classes under Walter Sickert and also working as an artist’s model before studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he was seen as a ‘disturbing influence’. In 1913 he visited Paris with Jacob Epstein and made contacts among the avant-garde including Modigliani and Picasso. Upon their return they co-curated the so-called ‘Jewish Section’ at the Whitechapel Art Gallery’s exhibition Twentieth-century Art: A Review of Modern Movements showcasing the work of the local Whitechapel Boys alongside some of their European contemporaries. Bomberg’s harrowing service in the trenches during the First World War was compounded by a disastrous experience as a commissioned war artist. His postwar disillusionment is most powerfully expressed in the masterly Ghetto Theatre (1920). After the war, Bomberg began to tentatively engage with landscape before travelling in 1923 to Jerusalem, where he began to work en plein air for the first time. Following expeditions to Jericho, Petra and Wadi Kelt, he produced a series of detailed, realistic landscapes, which evolved from the tightly topographical into a looser, characteristically expressionistic style, heralding the painterly achievements of his final years. After a series of disappointments in the 1930s and 1940s Bomberg concentrated on portraits of friends, including fellow Whitechapel Boy John Rodker, and family, as well as a series of searching self-portraits. Although only reluctantly granted a Second World War commission to paint a bomb store in 1942, Bomberg produced many drawings and paintings on the subject. During the 1940s and early 1950s he was an influential teacher at the Borough Polytechnic, spawning the Borough Group and the Borough Bottega, and carried out a series of architectural drawings. Following his visit to Spain in 1929, Bomberg's renewed vigour resulted in a series of works based on the cathedral at Toledo, flowering on his second visit in 1934–35, into dramatic landscapes of the gorge at Ronda and flickering night-time processions during Holy Week. These experiments were curtailed by the onset of the Spanish Civil War, but over a decade later picked up and progressed in the west country, where his loosened handling verged on the abstract, and in Cyprus in 1948. Bomberg's work eventually reached a magnificent fulfillment of his early promise in his maturity upon his final return to Spain. He died in London in 1957.

    exhibiting artists

    neueste Werke

    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      The Draughtsman, 1998
      31.8 x 37.5 cm (h x w)
      Assemblage
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Cherbourg 1949, c. 1999
      33 x 31.8 cm (h x w)
      Assemblage: wood, brass porthole, glass, and mixed media
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Catia’s Terrace, 1991
      55.9 x 63.5 cm (h x w)
      Oil on canvas
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      The Best Room, 1991
      50.8 x 61 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Norfolk Coast – Sunset, c. 1991
      14 x 21.6 cm (h x w)
      casein on paper
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Coaster leaving Wells, 1990
      30.5 x 59.7 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Life-Boat Café, 1988
      55.9 x 66 cm (h x w)
      Oil on paper mounted to hardboard
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Southwold, 1986
      38 x 51 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      National Symbol, 1988
      62.2 x 74.9 cm (h x w)
      charcoal, crayon and chalk
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Flowers, 1985
      91.5 x 76 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Flautino: Figure from the Commedia dell’Arte, 1985
      29.3 x 22.9 cm (h x w)
      Oil Paint and Collage
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Quilted Jacket, c. 1980
      25.4 x 20.3 cm (h x w)
      Ink and Watercolour
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Canape, c. 1980
      25.4 x 20.3 cm (h x w)
      Ink and Watercolour
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      La Vache, 1976
      20.3 x 25.4 cm (h x w)
      Oil on Canvas Panel
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      The View from Permeke’s Studio, 1974
      61 x 71.1 cm (h x w)
      Oil on canvas
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Folkestone, 1974-75
      40.6 x 50.8 cm (h x w)
      oil on hardboard
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Rainbow off Tréport, 1971-72
      25.4 x 30.5 cm (h x w)
      Oil on canvas board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Dieppe Harbour, c. 1968–74
      58.4 x 104.1 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Simple Flowers, 1966
      17.8 x 14 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
    • Alfred Cohen (1920-2001)

      Small Haven, c. 1968
      25.4 x 30.5 cm (h x w)
      Oil on board
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