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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

The decision by the City Council of Bratislava in 2023 to close the Arthur Fleischmann Museum (established in 2002) has raised concern in international academic and cultural circles and has been featured in depth on Slovak television. Discussions are underway to re-open it, either at its original location, Fleischmann’s family home, a sixteenth-century town house in the centre of Bratislava, or at an alternative venue in the city.

Since his death in 1990, Fleischmann’s sculpture has inspired global scholarly interest, reflecting the scope of his international career in Bratislava, Vienna, Padua, Johannesburg, Bali, Sydney, London and Los Angeles.

 

Symposium Programme

9.30 – 9.35
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Court of St James’s, Róbert Ondrejcsák

9.35 – 9.40
British Ambassador to Slovakia, Nigel Baker OBE MVO

Session 1 Arthur Fleischmann in Bali and Australia – Chair Dominique Fleischmann, son of Arthur Fleischmann

9.40 – 10.00
Arthur Fleischmann and his Australian Legacy, Jim Bertouch

10.00 – 10.20
Arthur Fleischmann on Bali: contexts and connections, Gianni Orsini

10.20 – 10.50
What We Have Seen in Heaven: the Jewish Temple, Christian Mystical Ascent and the Art of Arthur Fleischmann, Fr Dominic White O.P.

10.50 – 11.00 Q&A

11.00 – 11.20 Coffee break

Session 2 Arthur Fleischmann’s Early Life – Chair Joanna Barnes, Arthur Fleischmann Foundation Trustee

11.20 – 11.40
The Press Photography of Red Vienna 1929-1938, Professor Eva Bransome

11.40 – 12.00
Fleischmann’s background: family, schooling and early artistic life before 1938, Dr Thomas Lorman

12.00 – 12.20
My Personal Recollections of the Establishment of the Arthur Fleischmann Museum, Štefan Holčik

12.20 – 12.40
Arthur Fleischmann and the Interwar Slovak Moderna, Marianna Oravcová

12.40 – 1.00
Arthur Fleischmann’s Ceramic Sculptures and Artifacts from the Interwar Period, Mgr Zuzana Francová

1.00 – 1.20 Q&A

1.20 – 2.00 Lunch Break

Session 3 London and the later work – Chair Dr Robert Burstow, University of Derby

2.00 – 2.20
Lot’s Wife and the Worlds of Yesterday and Tomorrow, Dr Philip Ward-Jackson

2.20 – 2.40
Space. Light and Form, Dr Lucia Gregorová Stach

2.40 – 2.50 Q&A

Session 4 Central European Émigré Sculptors – Chair Dr Holly Trusted, Public Statues and Sculpture Association

2.50 – 3.10
Oscar Nemon (1906–1985) – Émigré Sculptor, Aurelia Young

3.10 – 3.30
Arthur Fleischmann and Peter László Péri: the work and patrons of two Hungarian-born sculptors in Cold War Britain, Dr Robert Burstow

3.30 – 3.50
Parallel Lives? – Arthur Fleischmann and Willi Soukop: Two Émigré Sculptors in London, Sarah MacDougall

3.50 – 4.00 Q&A

4.00 – 4.20 Tea break

Session 5 Arthur Fleischmann’s Legacy – Chair Gervase Hood, Arthur Fleischmann Foundation Trustee

4.20 – 4.35
Sculptors’ Archives as Challenge and Legacy: the Example of Arthur Fleischmann at Tate?
Dr Darragh O’Donoghue

4.35 – 4.45
The Arthur Fleischmann Archive, Peter Simpson and Dominique Fleischmann

4.45 – 5.00
From Water, Light and Starwars to Figure and Abstraction, Nick Hornby

5.00 – 5.15 Q&A

5.15 – 5.30 Closing remarks, Dominique Fleischmann

Abstracts of Papers and Biographies of Speakers and Chairs

Joanna Barnes (Chair) is a trustee of the Arthur Fleischmann Foundation and Co-chair of the Public Statues and Sculpture Association (PSSA). A Courtauld Institute of Art graduate, Joanna worked at the Heim Gallery (London) Ltd, becoming the Director of the Sculpture Department. In 1987, she set up Joanna Barnes Fine Arts and organized several exhibitions, including ‘Bali through a Sculptor’s Eyes’ (1994) focusing on the sculptures Fleischmann created in Bali. She curated the exhibition ‘Arthur Fleischmann: a Centennial Celebration’ at the Bratislava City Museum in 1996 and helped establish the Arthur Fleischmann Museum there in 2002. Joanna was co-founder of the Sculpture Journal and is co-founder of the PSSA.

 

Arthur Fleischmann and his Australian Legacy

Jim Bertouch

Arthur Fleischmann resided in Australia for a relatively short period from 1939 to 1949. However, his contribution to Australian decorative arts, particularly sculpture, was, and is, profound. Soon after his arrival he became immersed in the Sydney arts community and was one of the founders of the Merioola Group, which included painters, potters, decorative artists, photographers and dancers. He was commissioned to produce the famous Explorer Doors for the front of the State Library of New South Wales (NSW) as well as many sculptures in public places and private collections. It has been estimated that more than 100 of his sculptures are held in Australia, with many in galleries and museums in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Newcastle. Many more are held in private collections around the country, and several are in religious colleges and churches including St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, where there is a bust of Pope John Paul II. This presentation will include images of many of these objects and will also discuss the ‘rediscovery’ of his last sculpture Homage to the Discovery of DNA, which was designed in 1986 and constructed of Perspex. It had been installed originally at the opening of the new wing of the State Library (NSW) in 1990.

Jim Bertouch is a researcher, collector, author and advocate for art and decorative arts, either made in, or with an Australian heritage. He is a past President of the Australiana Society, member of the Australiana Fund and co-founder of the Australiana Initiative. He practises as a Rheumatologist in Sydney.

 

The Press Photography of Red Vienna 1929-1938
Professor Eva Branscome

This lecture is a discussion about a group of original press photographs that feature the vast interwar social housing estates in Vienna. These photographs document three key political events which took place during a time-span of less than ten years: firstly, the construction of these housing estates in the late-1920s as built icons of ‘Red Vienna’, the civil war in 1934 in which they were used as fortresses of Socialist resistance, and finally the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938. The buildings thus became an important stage for political action and the photographs in this exhibition offer clear evidence of this. But these images are not in any way neutral documentation. Their distinct technological nature, evident in their physicality and in the materiality of the actual press photograph with its attached press release, will be examined and discussed as a mediator that shows a word-image relationship in flux.

Eva Branscome is Professor of Architecture and Cultural Heritage at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, UK. Her teaching approaches architectural history & theory in several ways: as an independent field of study, as directly relevant to students’ design processes, and as a factor within heritage environments. Alongside PhD supervisions, she coordinates or tutors on Bartlett architectural history & theory modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, notably the MA Architectural History.Originally trained as an interior architect, her research follows two strands: the links between built heritage and cultural practices in contemporary cities, and the modern architectural history of Central Europe. She is the author of Hans Hollein and Postmodernism (2018), the first major monograph about that famous Austrian architect-artist. Increasingly her research examines the complicity of architecture with social injustice, seen in the 2023 UCL/SAHGB conference she co-organised on ‘Constructing Coloniality: British Imperialism and the Built Environment’

 

Arthur Fleischmann and Peter László Péri: the work and patrons of two Hungarian-born sculptors in Cold War Britain

Dr Robert Burstow

This paper will compare the works of the Hungarian-born sculptors Arthur Fleischmann (1896–1990) and Peter László Péri (1899–1967) from their years of living in Britain – Péri arrived in 1933 and Fleischmann in 1948 – and the support they attracted from private, corporate and institutional patrons. The two shared much in common. They were born within three years and about 125 miles of one another, Péri in Budapest and Fleischmann in Pozsony (now Bratislava). Being Jewish and, in Péri’s case, also a Communist meant their lives were disrupted by the rise of anti-Semitism and right-wing politics in Central Europe, leading both to seek new homes in many different countries. This early cosmopolitan experience encouraged both to adopt highly eclectic sculptural practices that defy easy categorisation. Notwithstanding these similarities, my paper will of course also highlight significant differences in their lives and artistic practices: though both owed a debt to European avant-gardism, Fleischmann never forgot his academic training in Prague and Vienna, nor Péri his commitment in Berlin to ‘Socialist Realism’. The sculptures they exhibited at the 1951 Festival of Britain will usefully illustrate both these similarities and differences, the naked lifelike bodies of Péri’s concrete sunbathers accentuating the idealist fantasy of Fleischmann’s bronze mermaid fountain. The stylistic, conceptual and even material differences evident in their work will be related to the sculptors’ evolving and seemingly very different political and religious views. While Péri’s political convictions are well established, at least until the mid-1950s, less is known about Fleischmann’s, though his decision to settle in Britain rather than return to Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup is suggestive of his more liberal leanings (unsurprising, perhaps, as unlike Péri, he came from the Hungarian bourgeoisie). And although both sculptors eventually turned to Christianity, Fleischmann’s conversion to Roman Catholicism and Péri’s to Quakerism likewise indicate contrasting beliefs and priorities. This exploration of their artistic, political and religious differences will help to explain the types of patrons their work attracted in a Cold War climate of virulent anti-Communism and strict social conformism. As Fleischmann’s decorative and idealizing tendencies increasingly won him corporate sponsorship, celebrity portrait commissions and, to some extent, approval from the British art establishment, Péri was forced to rely almost exclusively on the patronage of left-wing local authorities. Thus, while Péri lived a life of financial hardship in Camden Town, quite probably under the surveillance of the security services (given some of his friendships) but feeling unable to return to his home country, Fleischmann was able to purchase a large studio-home in St John’s Wood and travel widely. Lastly, my paper will consider why neither sculptor achieved significant recognition from the bastion of artistic tradition, the Royal Academy, or from the fledgling, more liberal-minded Arts Council. By exploring these points of convergence and divergence in the two sculptors’ careers, I hope to illuminate not only their own intentions and achievements but also the complex interests and motivations of their principal patrons.

Dr Robert Burstow (Chair and Speaker) is Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art at the University of Derby. As a specialist in the history and theory of mid-20th century British sculpture, his interdisciplinary research focuses on sculpture’s relation to domestic and international politics. He has presented papers at national and international conferences, and published essays and reviews in academic journals, such as Apollo, Art History, The Oxford Art Journal and The Sculpture Journal, and contributed chapters to academic books, including Henry Moore: Critical Essays (Ashgate), Sculpture in 20th-Century Britain (Henry Moore Institute), Sculpture and the Garden (Ashgate), The History of British Art, 1870-Now (Tate and Yale Center for British Art) and British Art in the Nuclear Age (Ashgate). His recent publications include an article on the patronage of Central and Eastern European émigré sculptors in post-war Britain (British Art Journal, Winter 2018/19) and an exhibition catalogue essay on the work of the émigré sculptor Peter László Péri (Péri’s People, Kunsthaus Dahlem, Berlin, 2023). He is also a member of the PSSA’s Public Sculpture of Britain Board and currently leading research for a forthcoming volume on the public sculpture of Derbyshire.

 

Arthur Fleischmann’s Ceramic Sculptures and Artifacts from the Interwar Period

Mgr Zuzana Francová

Sculptures and decorative artifacts created in glazed ceramic form an important part of Arthur Fleischmann´s work in the early decades of his career (1920s and mainly 1930s). At that time, the artist taught ceramics at the Women’s Academy in Vienna and the majority of his output in the interwar years was in this medium. Today most of these ceramic works which have been traced are preserved in three different public collections across Bratislava: the Bratislava City Museum, the Bratislava City Gallery and the Museum of History of the Slovak National Museum. This paper analyses them from various perspectives, particularly focusing on their iconography and style. The author also briefly reflects Fleischmann’s ceramic artifacts in the broader context of contemporary ceramic sculpture created in his native city of Bratislava and its surroundings (Modra) and also in Prague and Vienna where he studied. She tries to identify possible sources of influence and indicates parallels with works by other sculptors active in this area.

Mgr Zuzana Francová Curator of the Arthur Fleischmann Museum in Bratislava from 2002 until its closure in 2023, Zuzana is an art historian and Curator of Arts and Crafts at the Bratislava City Museum. She has published several articles on Arthur Fleischmann and his museum in Bratislava including: ‘Arthur Fleischmann a jeho dielo v bratislavských zbierkach’,Pamiatky a múzeá 1997, No. 1, pp. 62-65. German and English summaries: ‘Arthur Fleischmann und seine Werke in den Sammlungen von Bratislava; ‘Arthur Fleischmann and His Works in the Bratislava Collections’; Múzeum Arthura Fleischmanna – Sprievodca / Arthur Fleischmann Museum Guide (text in Slovak and English language, list of exhibited works) 2002; ‘Múzeum Arthura Fleischmanna’, Pamiatky a múzeá 2003, No. 3, pp. 34-37 summary; ‘Museum of Arthur Fleischmann’, Pamiatky a múzeá 2005 – special issue in English pp. 40-43. French summary: ‘Le musée d´Arthur Fleischmann’; ‘Nový exponát v Múzeu Arthura Fleischmanna / New exhibit in the Arthur Fleischmann Museum’, Zborník Múzea mesta Bratislavy, Bratislava, 2016, roč, 28, pp. 203-06; ‘Nové akvizície diel sochára A. Fleischmanna (1896 – 1990/ New acquisitions of Arthur Fleischmann Sculptures’, Zborník Múzea mesta Bratislavy, Bratislava, 2020, roč. 32, pp. 370-81.

 

Space, Light, and Form

Lucia Gregorová Stach

This paper will discuss the experiments of Arthur Fleischmann and Štefan Belohradský (1930–2012) in exporing new materials, forms, and concepts, pushing the boundaries of traditional sculpture and expanding its definition. A radical change in Fleischmann’s artistic programme was brought about by his monumental abstract sculpture – the Harmony and Progress fountain (1969) for the British Pavilion at the 1970 EXPO in Osaka (Japan), for which he used coloured perspex in combination with flowing water. Apart from the material, it was Fleischmann’s fascination with science and the possibilities arising from new cosmic discoveries that resulted in this significant shift in his work. Reflecting these impulses, geometric abstractionism and neo-constructivism were culminating on the international art scene at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s. For example, Slovak sculptor Štefan Belohradský also took part in the EXPO in Japan with his kinetic object Sun of Hope (1969). For Czech artist Radoslav Kratina (1928–1999), in his own words, “the rationality of geometric abstraction was an appealing stimulus, offering more engagement with the intellect than with subjective emotions”. The talk will aim to compare Fleischmann’s work of the late 1960s and early 1970s with art works and statements of these and other similar artists’ attempts in Czechoslovakia and Central Europe.

Lucia Gregorová Stach, PhD. graduated in History of Art and Culture at the University of Trnava and during her studies she received a two-semester study stay at the Institute of History of Art at Charles University in Prague. She completed her doctorate at the Department of Theory and History of Fine Arts and Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava in 2015. In 2011 she attended curatorial studies at the Sommerakademie in Salzburg and in 2016 she was awarded a residency at the Museumsquartier in Vienna. From 2000 she worked as an editor and independent curator, and from 2002 to 2006 as an exhibition curator at the Jan Koniarek Gallery in Trnava. Since 2010 she has worked at the Slovak National Gallery, first as curator of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Prints and Drawings and curator of exhibitions and projects, then in 2013 she became chief curator of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Lucia has prepared several monographic and thematic exhibitions and catalogues at the Slovak National Gallery. In 2017, she was the curator of Jana Želibská’s exhibition ‘Swan Song Now’ at the Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republic at the 57th Venice Biennale. She has also prepared numerous exhibitions as an independent curator for tranzit.sk, Kunsthalle Bratislava and others. She is author and co-author of several monographs and collections, regularly publishes in professional journals and magazines, participates in professional events, symposia and conferences nationally and internationally. Since 2019, she has collaborated on the JAMA festival of intermedia art, for which she prepared an international multi-generational exhibition, editorial and performance project ‘Lost Human’ in 2021. Her monograph on the early work of Stano Filko, co-authored with Aurel Hrabušický appeared in 2022 (Scala Art Publishers, London). Currently she is working on a new permanent exhibition of contemporary art for the reconstructed Slovak National Gallery.

 

Gervase Hood (Chair) is a trustee of the Arthur Fleischmann Foundation. He is a former civil servant who worked for both the UK National Archives and in Whitehall. He has had a lifelong interest in the work of Arthur Fleischmann and knew both Arthur and Joy Fleischmann. He has published on patronage and pageantry in Jacobean and Caroline London.

 

My Personal Recollections of the Establishment of the Arthur Fleischmann Museum

Štefan Holčik

This paper will refer to the background of the Fleischmann family in Bratislava and my personal recollections dating from the early 1960s when I first became aware of the sculptor Arthur Fleischmann. It will explain how I became involved in helping to relocate the ceramic sculptures he had left behind in Bratislava when he fled to avoid the German Reich, and how as Vice-Mayor I was active in the initial stages of helping to establish the Arthur Fleischmann Museum.

Štefan Holčik was born in Bratislava in 1944. His father was a bank clerk, his mother was an English language teacher. His father lost his job at the bank, because he was not a member of the Communist Party and three of his brothers were Protestant pastors, which also caused a problem. Štefan completed his primary education in 1958 and then left Bratislava for Prague. Here he attended the Technical Secondary School specializing in nuclear engineering. After his final school examination in 1962, he returned to Bratislava and started to study machinery at the Slovak Technical University. Three years later he decided to leave the Machinery Faculty, as he had the opportunity to work on the archaeological excavation in the area of the medieval Bratislava Castle. From 1966 to 1970 he studied archaeology at the Faculty of Philosophy at Bratislava Comenius University. Later Štefan was employed as an archaeologist in the Slovak National Museum. In 1984, he obtained a half-year scholarship from the British Council. Despite his non-communist leanings he was allowed to leave for London, where he spent half a year studying in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities at the British Museum. After the ‘velvet revolution’ in 1989, he served twice as Vice-Mayor of Bratislava from 1990 to 1995 and from 2002 to 2006. He retired officially in 2005 but worked part-time for more than 15 years at the Slovak National Museum, as well as at the Bratislava City Museum. Štefan has published several books on topics which include history and history of art with a particular focus on the historical buildings in Bratislava.

 

From Water, Light and Starwars to Figure and Abstraction

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby first met Joy and Dominique Fleischmann in 1995 at the age of 15 and his visits to Arthur’s studio were instrumental in his decision to study art. He will talk about this first encounter with Arthur’s work, and their shared fascination of the two domains of figuration and abstraction, and new technologies.

Nick Hornby is a British sculptor based in London. He studied at Slade School of Art and Chelsea College of Art where he was awarded the UAL Sculpture Prize. His work addresses queer identity, semiotics and art-historical critique. He employs experimental digital technologies that result in traditional objects made from resin, bronze, steel, granite and marble.  He has exhibited at Tate Britain, The Southbank Centre, Leighton House London, CASS Sculpture Foundation and the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, and internationally at The Museum of Arts and Design New York and Poznan Bienalle, Poland. His residencies include with Outset (Israel) and Eyebeam (New York). In 2014 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors. A monograph on his life and work, Nick Hornby, produced by Anomie Publishing appeared in 2022. Most recently in 2023 he unveiled three significant public commissions in London. Each of these critically engages with the core tropes of public art – equestrian, memorial and abstract.

 

Fleischmanns background family, schooling and early artistic life before 1938

Dr Thomas Lorman UCL

My paper will cover Arthur Fleischmann’s family background, schooling and early artistic efforts before 1938. My focus will be exploring and explaining his overlapping ethnic identities in this period as a Czechoslovak Jew who initially aligned himself with the Hungarian minority and international(ist) socialism. In particular, I want to highlight the desire for assimilation that shaped many ambitious Jewish families in pre-1918 Hungary and the challenge that they faced when they found themselves in the new successor states after 1918. In Arthur’s case, his family’s desire to become part of the majority Hungarian culture before 1918 paradoxically placed him again within a minority in Czechoslovakia after 1918. My paper will argue that his art in this period reflects this deeper desire to both fit in and mark himself out as different and that wrestling with these dilemmas shaped his choice of subject and style as he began his artistic career in the interwar period. My paper will make use of a small number of new sources that sketch out his life before 1938 including school and university records, initial artistic works and a cultural organization which he joined in the 1930s.

 

Abstract: Parallel Lives? – Arthur Fleischmann and Willi Soukop: Two Émigré Sculptors in London

Sarah MacDougall

Arthur Fleischmann (1896–1990) and Willi Soukop (1907–1995) in some ways lived parallel lives; both political émigrés of continental European origin, their versatility and experimentalism as sculptors, as Ben Read has observed of Fleischmann, ‘challenges regular classification’. Due to family pressures, both had embarked originally on alternative careers: Fleischmann qualified as a doctor, Soukop worked as a carver; both afterwards trained at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art, as pupils of Josef Müllner, before their paths diverged. Fleischmann’s peripatetic journey led him via South Africa, Bali and Australia, while Soukop found ‘paradise’at Dartington Hall in Devon, where he created his famous Swan Fountain. Postwar he split his time between teaching and his work as a sculptor, arguably, dissipating his talents. Fleischmann after an early teaching post in Vienna, concentrated solely on sculpture. In London, the two men became neighbours in St. John’s Wood, an area densely settled by continental refugees. In 1951 Fleischmann’s Mermaid fountain was a much-publicised feature of the Festival of Britain, in which Soukop (and many émigrés including Siegfried Charoux, Georg Ehrlich and Peter Lázló Péri) also participated. Despite his European origins, Fleischmann was sometimes viewed as a Commonwealth sculptor and an injection of ‘new blood’, while Soukop remained notably European in both origin and influence. Both took part in the popular LCC triennial open-air sculpture exhibitions in Battersea (1948–60) and Holland Park (1957, 1966), where Fleischmann’s pioneering Perspex carvings led to his participation at the 1958 Brussels International Exhibition and important future commissions. His experiments in Perspex and later acrylic continued to the end of his life. Soukop also executed numerous public commissions, and accepted a Royal Academy teaching post, but his playful eclectism came to seem old-fashioned and his critical reputation was overtaken by that of his pupils. This paper explores the parallels and divergences in Fleischmann and Soukop’s lives and careers and asks what part, if any, their continental origins and experiences as émigrés might have played.

Sarah MacDougall is Director of Scholarship at Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London, with responsibility for research, exhibitions and the Ben Uri Collection, focusing on the Jewish, Refugee and Immigrant Contribution to British Visual Culture since 1900. She has presented and published widely on artists associated with two principal waves of migration to the UK: the pre-First World War ‘Whitechapel boys’, including a Mark Gertler biography (2002); and the so-called ‘Hitler émigré’ generation. Papers on the latter include “Refugee Sculptors” (University of London, 2019), ‘“A Continental Atmosphere”: Austrian Émigré Sculptors in Wartime and Reconstruction Britain’ (Austrian Cultural Forum, 2012), and “‘A Vitalising Impulse”, Sculptors Behind the Wire: Ernst M Blensdorf, Siegfried Charoux, Georg Ehrlich and Paul Hamann’ (Cambridge 2010). Relevant publications include ‘“Looks Like Tomato Soup and Smells Faintly of Vanilla”: Paul Hamman’s Life Mask of Lion Feuchtwanger’, Journal of the International Feuchtwanger Society, Volume 17, University of Southern California Libraries (2014); and ‘“Separate Spheres of Endeavour”: Experiencing the Émigré Network in Britain, c. 1933-45,’ in eds., Dogramaci, B and Wimmer, K, Netzwerke des Exils: Künstleriche Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933 (Berlin: Mann Verlag, 2011). Sarah is a committee member of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies at the University of London, and co-edited and contributed to Yearbook 18: Émigrés and the Applied Arts.

 

SculptorsArchives as Challenge and Legacy: the Example of Arthur Fleischmann at Tate?

Dr Darragh O’Donoghue

As the national collection documenting the practice and dissemination of art in Britain, primarily from 1900, Tate Archive holds material relating to many sculptors. This includes the gift, from the family, of the archive of Arthur Fleischmann, accessioned in 2022. This major acquisition adds to Tate’s substantial holdings of émigré artists, those artists and art professionals who arrived in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s to escape persecution in Germany, Russia and elsewhere. In a way, Tate Archive has become a haven for those figures who were marginalised and displaced in their own lifetimes, and responsible for safeguarding and promoting their legacies – an ethical as well as historical or archival challenge. Additionally, sculptors’ archives bring their own challenges. This paper will explore some of these challenges by comparing Fleischmann’s archive to that of Naum Gabo, another émigré sculptor who pioneered the use of non-traditional materials.

 

Dr Darragh O’Donoghue has worked at Tate since 2014 and has been an archive curator since 2016. He completed a PhD (2022) on the artist-filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin at the Department of Art, University of Reading, for which he compiled a catalogue raisonné. He won the Essay Prize, Middle English Poetry, B.A. in English Studies (Hons), Trinity College Dublin (1994); was nominated for the FARMER Prize for best dissertation, M.Sc. in Archives Administration (2010); and won the Crookshank-Glin Prize for best dissertation, M.Phil. in Irish Art History, Trinity College Dublin (2012). At Tate, he has catalogued archives of figures as diverse as Derek Jarman, David Hall, Hamad Butt, Pierre Roy, and Lubaina Himid, and presented archive displays on themes such as the Irish in Britain, World War I, the British landscape, Paul Nash, and David Hockney.

 

Arthur Fleischmann and the Interwar Slovak Moderna

Marianna Oravcová

The end of WW1 marked political change in Central Europe and profound changes in cultural life. The thriving social centres of Budapest and Vienna were replaced by new national political centres in Prague and Bratislava. Shortly after the ČSR was established, Bratislava started to develop independent cultural and artistic establishments. The Pressburger Kunstverein  or art society had already been established in 1885, but in 1921 the first artists’ association Umelecká beseda slovenská was set up,  followed by the– Society of Progressive Artists (1931). The first School of Arts and Crafts, a sort of Slovak Bauhaus, was founded by Josef Vydra in 1928. By the mid 1930s the school was attended by 200 students with 20 teaching staff in different departments. These students were of Slovak, Czech, German and Hungarian and other nationalities. From 1931 to 1938 FORUM – a monthly art journal – reported on art exhibitions. Networks of creatives and artists emerged, attracted by new opportunities, and formed a vibrant artistic hub in Bratislava. This colourful colllection of individuals shared common pre-war and war life experiences and artistic backgounds due to their training in Vienna, Budapest or Prague, or further afield in Paris, Rome and Munich. The Slovenian painter Ivan Žabota (1877 – 1939) came from Vienna and settled in Bratislava, until his death. He joined Gustáv Mallý (Vienna 1879 – Bratislava 1952) who was a pioneer of Slovak moderna. Mallý had studied in Prague, Dresden, Pittsburg and New York, and founded and directed the first private art school in 1918-1932. Three Bratislava born sculptors returned from their studies abroad to spend their life here – Robert Kühmayer (1883 Bratislava -1972 Vienna) back from Vienna, Budapest and Paris, Alois Riegele (Bratislava1879- Bratislava 1940) returned from his studies in Vienna and Rome, and Josef A. Murmann (Bratislava 1889- London 1943), who had studied in Vienna under Prof. Müllner (as Arthur Fleischmann did later). This paper aims to explore the form and extent of  Fleischmann’s artistic participation in this newly created cultural milieu. Travelling between Vienna and Bratislava when visiting his family in Biela Ulica 6, he was definitely part of the artistic community in Bratislava between 1919 and 1937, when he left Europe. The subjects of his work – portraits, war memorials or religious art – were common in the post-war period. The exploration of materials, especially ceramics, became a distinctive feature of his work. Fleischmann must have known most of the previously mentioned artists personally from Vienna or Bratislava, these contacts would have been strengthened by his contributions to Umelecká beseda slovenská exhibitions and he may have participated in organizing exhibitions and in the activities of the artistic associations. Reviews in FORUM and elsewhere rate Fleischmann’s work highly, praising his productivity and future promise as an internationally renowned artist. Around a dozen of his works were acquired by Bratislava galleries and museums. After sixty years these works, together with works loaned by Joy and Dominique from London, made the first exhibitions in Bratislava and Vienna (1996) possible as well as the opening of his museum in Biela Ulica 6 in 2002 a reality.

Marianna Oravcová PhDr., PhD completed her postgraduate studies at the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology, Slovak Academy of Science, and obtained her PhD on the topic of History of Philosophy. She has spent her professional career in the field of foreign affairs. Between 1994 and 1998 she was Director of the Slovak Institute in Vienna, and during that time she hosted the exhibition ‘Arthur Fleischmann: a Centennial Celebration’. Marianna went on to serve as Counsellor of the Slovak Embassy in Berlin, Germany and Deputy Chief of Mission between 2000 and 2005. From 2009 to 2013 she served as Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Slovenia. She has written numerous publications on the history of philosophy, focusing on post-Wittgenstein philosophy of the 20th century and philosophy in Slovakia in the 17th and 18th centuries. She received the Gold Medal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava in 2023. She is currently working on the adaptation of her book as a scenario for a play Action B- silence which will be performed at the Slovak National Theatre.

 

Arthur Fleischmann on Bali: contexts and connections

Gianni Orsini

During his short stay on Bali (1938-1939), Arthur Fleischmann was inspired to make dozens of mainly terracotta sculptures, hundreds of sketches, and to take thousands of photographs. Furthermore, he was fascinated by Balinese culture, on which he would prepare a manuscript after arriving in Australia. Bali was a very popular destination for European sculptors, painters, photographers and authors, Fleischmann met a number of them, and might have made connections with many more. This lecture will give an overview of the artistic context in the Dutch East Indies at that time and speculate to what extent there might have been mutual influences.

Gianni Orsini, Msc. (Amsterdam, 1970) studied at Delft University of Technology. His focus is on European artists who worked in the former Dutch East Indies. Orsini was co-author of four biographies, on G.P. Adolfs (1898-1968), W.G. Hofker (1902-1981), W.C.C. Bleckmann (1853-1942), and Romualdo Locatelli (1905-1942/43). Two were accompanied by retrospective exhibitions in Dutch museums, for which Orsini acted as guest curator. Orsini has written numerous articles in magazines and books. He also regularly contributes descriptions, for auction houses in both the Netherlands and Southeast Asia, of the art-historical backgrounds of important paintings by artists such as Bonnet, Dooijewaard, Israels, Le Mayeur de Merprès, Sonnega, Lee Man Fong, beside Adolfs, Hofker, Bleckmann, and Locatelli. Orsini also acts as an assessor of the authenticity and value, of work by artists based in the former Dutch East Indies during the period from 1850 to 1960.

 

The Arthur Fleischmann Archive

Peter Simpson and Dominique Fleischmann (see above)

This paper gives an overview of the work carried out in preparing the archive of letters, photographs and related documentary material left by Arthur Fleischmann in his studio after his death in 1990. It describes the archive and the work undertaken to organize the material into a coherent order. We will then explain how the physical documents were digitized and catalogued in an online resource, and how this has been integrated into the catalogue of works of art. We will present a short case study demonstrating how the final digital catalogue resource can be used by scholars to explore Arthur Fleischmann’s career and legacy.

Peter Simpson was awarded a BSc in mathematics and statistics from Leeds University in 1970. In 1973 he emigrated to Australia where he worked as a statistician for the electrical products company Philips. In 1977 he was awarded a Diploma in Librarianship from Ku-Ring-Gai College, New South Wales. He returned to the UK in 1981 and worked as a researcher for the British Medical Association from 1986 until his retirement in 2007. Since 2008 he has worked as honorary archivist on the Arthur Fleischmann Archive.

 

Dr Holly Trusted FSA (Chair) (formerly Marjorie Trusted) is Co-Chair of the PSSA. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Previously Senior Curator of Sculpture and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she is currently Senior Fellow at Durham University and Honorary Fellow at the University of Glasgow. She was the founding editor of the Sculpture Journal, and has lectured and published widely on sculpture, including British Sculpture 1470-2000 (2002), The Arts of Spain. Iberia and Latin America 1450-1700 (2007), The Making of Sculpture (2007), Baroque and Later Ivories (2013), The Cast Courts (2018) and Baroque Sculpture in Germany and Central Europe (2022). She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She is co-founder of the PSSA.

 

Lot’s Wife and the Worlds of Yesterday and Tomorrow

Dr Philip Ward-Jackson

This talk will look at the Perspex sculpture Lot’s Wife, exhibited in the LCC’s 1957 Holland Park exhibition, Sculpture 1850 and 1950, and in 1958 in the British Pavilion of the Brussels International Exhibition. In gestation since 1951, when Fleischmann had first started using Perspex, the subject, a woman turned to salt, was a perfect fit for this synthetic material. Commercially exploited since the early 1930s, Perspex or plexiglass had been used by the armed forces during World War II for windscreens and cockpits, but even before the war had inspired Naum Gabo to cut and mould it in constructivist works. Carving it, as Fleischmann did after the war, was a novelty.  As well as showcasing this novel use of the material, it will be argued that the Old Testament subject spoke eloquently to Fleischmann, as it had to the author Stefan Zweig, of the displacements resulting from Nazi persecution.

Dr Philip Ward-Jackson is a trustee of the Arthur Fleischmann Foundation. Before his retirement in 2004, Philip worked in the Conway Library of the Courtauld Institute. His PhD thesis (1970) was on J.-K. Huysmans and the Visual Arts, but in the Conway, he was responsible for photographic records of sculpture (4th century BC to the present) and architecture and design (1800 to the present). Before the Courtauld, he had studied at St Martin’s School of Art, and still draws and paints. In the course of his career, he developed photographic skills, which are now largely redundant in the digital age, but whose results can still be seen online (The Courtauld’s Art and Architecture website). He has contributed two volumes, Public Sculpture of the City of London (2003) and Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster (2011) to the PMSA (now the PSSA)’s National Recording Project and has written many articles chiefly on sculptors from mainland Europe working in 19th century Britain.

 

What We Have Seen in Heaven: the Jewish Temple, Christian Mystical Ascent and the Art of Arthur Fleischmann

Father Dominic White O.P.

In honour of the identity and faith of Arthur Fleischmann as a Jewish Catholic, I respond to his visionary figurative and abstract art from the story Bezalel, builder of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 31), the vision of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) and the Book of Revelation. These scriptural passages offer a conception of the artist as both inspired, free and necessitated (cf Kandinsky) in exercising their gifts.

 

Fr Dominic White is Prior of St Dominic’s Priory, London, and Acting Director of Research at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge. A Dominican friar and Catholic priest, he studied Classics at Pembroke College, Cambridge, followed by a PhD at Imperial College London. He was also organist and choir director of St Dominic’s Priory, London, through which he met the Dominicans. His theological interests focus especially on theology of the arts, and the implications of the arts for metaphysics, liturgy and spirituality, especially mysticism and spiritual cosmology. Fr Dominic is the author of The Lost Knowledge of Christ: Christian Cosmology, Contemporary Spiritualities and the Arts (Liturgical Press, 2015), and How Do I Look? Theology in the Age of the Selfie (SCM, 2020). He is a composer, and co-founder of the Friends of Sophia group.

Oscar Nemon (19061985) – Émigré Sculptor
Aurelia Young

Oscar Nemon (né Neumann) was born to Jewish parents in Slavonia, eastern Croatia in 1906. Like Arthur Fleischmann, Nemon studied sculpture in Vienna in 1924. After a year in Vienna Nemon moved to Belgium to continue his studies in Brussels. He toyed with cubism in the late 1920s and returned to Vienna to sculpt Sigmund Freud in 1931. Although Nemon would have liked to make monumental sculptures he had to work as a portrait sculptor to make ends meet. He also made many reliefs which were turned into medals in Belgium. Nemon moved to the UK in 1936, thanks to his well-connected Belgian mistress. Nemon was on the receiving end of antisemitism from his future English parents-in-law who, in 1939, asked the Home Office to deport him on the grounds he was a Jewish sculptor. Nemon managed to avoid deportation by hiding away in a country village where he was taught English by Max Beerbohm and sculpted the film star Leslie Howard. Nemon had to suffer the agony of discovering that his beloved mother had been shot in a concentration camp during the War. Nemon was commissioned to sculpt Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and many prominent people in the 1950s 60s and 70s. There are five of his sculptures in the Palace of Westminster. Nemon’s statue of Sigmund Freud stands in Hampstead and his statue of Viscount Montgomery can be seen in Whitehall. Nemon never managed to make any money and lived with his wife and children in an old army hut on Boars Hill, just outside Oxford. Very few people know about Oscar Nemon in his home country of Croatia. Similarly, until the opening of the Arthur Fleischmann Museum in Bratislava in 2002, few people in Slovakia knew about Fleischmann and even today, he is not well-known there.

Aurelia Young is the daughter of the sculptor Oscar Nemon. She grew up running in and out of Nemon’s studio on Boars Hill, near Oxford. She started researching her father’s life in 2006 and has visited his home country of Croatia in her quest for his many lost works. Aurelia has given over 200 talks about her father in the UK, France, USA, Belgium. She was shocked to find, in the Royal Archives at Kew, that her English grandparents had made many attempts to have her father deported from the UK. Her husband, George Young, was a Conservative MP for over 40 years and now sits in the House of Lords. Aurelia’s biography of her father, Finding Nemon: The Extraordinary Life of the Outsider Who Sculpted the Famous, was published in 2018.

Event information

Hybrid symposium hosted by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, London.

Organisers: The Arthur Fleischmann Foundation in collaboration with the PSSA

Venue: The Embassy of the Slovak Republic, 25 Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8

Free event,  you must register to attend online and in person by emailing: ArthurFleischmannFoundation@gmail.com

It is imperative that you bring photo ID with you to the event.

 

This event has concluded.

Arthur Fleischmann with his water sculpture, Coalition (later destroyed by storm), at his Victoria Embankment Garden, London exhibition in 1972.


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