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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission


Becoming Gustav Metzger (1926-2017): Uncovering the Early Years 1945-1959

Event details
Calendar   Speaking Engagements
Location Zoom
Date Wed, Jul 7, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Duration   1h

Born in Germany to Polish-Jewish orthodox parents in 1926, Gustav Metzger was one of 10,000 Jewish children evacuated in 1939 to London as part of the Kindertransport. His parents, eldest brother, and maternal grandparents, all perished in the Holocaust. Upon the advice of Henry Moore, Metzger spent six months at the Cambridge School of Art, before enrolling at the Sir John Cass Institute in 1946, where he studied sculpture and attended David Bomberg’s life drawing classes at the Borough Polytechnic, alongside contemporaries including Frank Auerbach. The following year Metzger joined Bomberg’s composition class, producing ‘extremely fast and intense’ paintings. In 1948 he obtained a stateless passport which enabled him to travel to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France to study continental European painting. He returned to England in 1949, resuming Bomberg’s evening classes and subsequently initiating the Borough Bottega exhibiting society. After resigning in 1953, Metzger stopped painting for almost four years and moved to Kings Lynn in Norfolk. It was not until 1956 that he produced a series of oils depicting a three-legged table evocative of a mushroom cloud, his return to painting having coincided with his involvement in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Between 1957 and 1959, Metzger embraced abstraction, experimenting with paintings on thin sheets of mild steel. He described such work, which laid the foundation for his later auto-destructive practice, as a continuation.

The event is part of the monthly series Flight or Fight: Stories of Artists under Repression.

Register here.

This Zoom lecture series, hosted by the Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized, and Banned Art, New York, investigates artists whose life and art were impacted by the German Nazi terror regime 1933-1945.

Repeats? No
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