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Walter Spitzer
Polish French Jewish Artist Oil Painting Girl with Doll, School of Paris Judaica

1967

$2,600

About

Framed 27 X 24 inches Sight 18 X 15 inches Walter Spitzer (Polish/French, 1927 - ) born in Cieszyn, Poland. A Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor, he made his first drawings in a concentration camp. Walter Spitzer has lived and worked since WWII in France, where he studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Walter Spitzer has achieved great renown as a painter and printmaker. Whether in his paintings of Biblical subjects or in lithographs of Shtetl scenes, His humanity was inspired by the writings of Sartre, Montherlant and Kazantzakis, Walter Spitzer is occupied with two great, interlinked themes: man’s inhumanity to man, and the humanity of man. He will surely be recognized in the future as one of the great witnesses to the twentieth-century experience. Walter Spitzer was born in Chieszyn, Poland, the son of a Jewish liqueur producer, and attended the German school there. He began to draw and paint at an early age. In 1939 the Spitzer family was forcibly removed by the Germans to the town of Strzemieszyce, which was turned into a ghetto in 1942. When the ghetto was liquidated in June 1943 Spitzer’s mother was shot, and the sixteen-year-old Walter was deported to Blechhammer, a subcamp of Auschwitz. There he painted portraits of Wehrmacht soldiers and fellow inmates in exchange for food. He was one of the few to survive the evacuation march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, where to begin with, in late February 1945, he was held in the Little Camp. To enable him to make drawings documenting life in the camp, the Communists organized his transfer to the main camp. While on a death march in early April he made his escape in the vicinity of Jena and was soon in the hands of the Americans. Spitzer served as an interpreter with an American army unit, and at the same time executed numerous drawings depicting the world of the camps. In June 1945 the Americans took him to Paris, where – following the advice of his father, who had died in 1940 – he began to study art at the École des Beaux-Arts in Par the following year. After completing his training as an artist he produced paintings expressing a critical view of the society of his day. In 1955, in commemoration of the camps and the death marches, he executed a cycle of nine etchings in an edition of thirty, which he gave to various museums in Israel and in France. In the 1960s he established himself as an illustrator of exclusive editions of works by such authors as André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Joseph Kessel and Nikos Kazantzakis. The Six-Day War prompted him to begin painting subjects from Jewish and Biblical history; At age 19, he was asked to make the scenery for the Edouard VII Theater in Paris, which was showing The Dibbuk of Ansky. In 1947 the same theater asked him to make the scenery for the Hill of Life ( Max Zveig). Spitzer has been a member of the Salon d'Automne since 1952. He was the last remaining survivor of the Montparnasse Ecole de Paris. A group of Jewish expats that included Issachar Ber Ryback, Abel Pann, Abraham Mintchine, Isaac Antcher, Alexandre Altmann, Henri Epstein, Mane Katz, Marcel Janco, Gregoire Michonze, Ossip Zadkine and others. They painted in the Expressionist and Post Impressionist styles. Like Michel Kikoine and Pinchus Kremegne, Spitzer's works manifest excellence. Similar to Marc Chagall, one of his main inspirations is the Old Testament Bible and Jewish folklore. In 1993 he made the sculpture Muselmann for a Jewish memorial at the Buchenwald Memorial. His memorial to the deportation of the French Jews in Paris was inaugurated by President François Mitterrand in 1994. Walter Spitzer lived in Paris with his family.

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