Jakob Nussbaum, Mainufer mit Blick auf die Alte Brücke, Frankfurt 1903
Exhibition review

Jakob Nussbaum - Frankfurt Impressionist

 / 03/18/2018 - 12/02/2018

Jakob Nussbaum (1873-1936) may well have been the most prominent Jewish artist working in Frankfurt in the first half of the 20th century. For more than thirty years, he captured impressions of the city in his paintings, not only creating a series of remarkable art works and took an active part in Frankfurt’s cultural life.

Foto des Haus Gemünden-Wohra im Freilichtmuseum Hessenpark. Hier wird die Ausstellung "Jakob Nussbaum - Frankfurter Impressionist" gezeigt.
The exhibition is located in the Haus Gemünden-Wohra at the market place of the Hessenpark.

As the chairman of the "Frankfurt Künstlerbund" (Association of Artists), Jakob Nussbaum supported new developments in art and promoted new ideas on improving support for talented artists. He already put those ideas into practice as early as 1922 by founding the "Frankfurt Künstlerhilfe", an artists’ aid association. Four years later, in 1926, he was appointed to lead a Master Studio in Städelschule art school. Nussbaum joined the Berlin Secession art movement in 1904, and his style was strongly influenced by their ‘plein air’ painting. Nonetheless, his painterly expression largely remained informed by realism and impressionism. In 1933, Jakob Nussbaum was dismissed from his teaching position at the Städelschule art school. The same year he emigrated with his family to Palestine, where he settled at the Lake of Gennesaret. He died there in 1936, aged 63.

Frankfurt Landscape

In keeping with his fascination for Frankfurt, it now became the object of his ideas as an artist. He focused particularly on the public spaces and banks of the River Main. Many of his paintings show the vista from the river’s left bank across to the inner city, still a popular view for postcards. One of his key works from this period is "Mainufer mit Blick auf die Alte Brücke" (bank of the river Main with view on the old bridge).

Travelling through Europe

Unable to travel with canvases and paints, he sketched in charcoal and in pencil on paper. After travelling by boat in 1911 to the Canary Islands, he first turned these sketches into lithographs. The landscapes, whether a chain of mountains on Tenerife or outlines of boats against a coastline, reflect Nussbaum’s feelings on viewing the natural world.

Landscapes of War

In December 1914, Jakob Nussbaum was called up to fight in the First World War. In 1915, he was sent to the Western Front. One year later, he was in France as a war artist. The city- and landscapes Nussbaum executed during the First World War in France were afterwards transfered into lithographs, which are also on display in the exhibition.

The Landscapes of Zion

In Winter 1925, Nussbaum travelled with his wife from Hamburg through the English Channel down the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean Sea. Their first short stop was in Egypt. After just two days, they continued to Mandatory Palestine. They stayed there for several weeks. After his return, he issued a portfolio of graphic works – the "Palestine Portfolio", comprising ten dry point etchings. The subjects constantly revisited in this portfolio.

Through the Taunus and Odenwald Landscape

Jakob Nussbaum frequently went out into the countryside around Frankfurt, near and far. Nussbaum’s landscapes reflect his fascination for the natural world, yet are also imbued with a certain sense of loneliness.

Farewell and new Life

On 15 April 1933, Nussbaum lost his professorship at the Frankfurt’s Städelschule art college and his master’s studio. He decided to emigrate with his family to the British Mandate of Palestine. Nearly sixty friends, neighbors and collectors inscribed some farewell greetings with partially also photos and drawings. This album is an exceptional historical document which is for the first time on show in this exhibition.

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