February 27, 2012 - March 9, 2012curated by Davide Stimilli, Associate Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies and Lisa Tamiris Becker, Director, CU Art Museum
Davide Stimilli will be giving a lecture titled, The Life and Work of Michel Fingesten during CU Boulder’s Week of Jewish Culture on March 7 at 7 pm in the ATLAS Black Box Theater. The CU Art Museum will remain open until 7 pm that evening preceding the lecture.
Michel Fingesten (originally Michl Finkelstein) was born in 1884 in the village of Buckovice (Buczkowitz), Silesia, in the Habsburg Empire, now part of the Czech Republic, from a Czech-Jewish father and an Italian-Jewish mother, and died in 1943 in Cerisano, Southern Italy, after the liberation by the allies of the camp in which he had been interned since 1941. He was one of the most original and productive graphic artists and bookplates designers of the twentieth century. He is especially noted for his Surrealist and Cubist influenced prints and paintings that capture the darkening mood of Europe as it slides into the brutality and devastation associated with Fascism, Nazism, and World War II.
In March 2011, Davide Stimilli, Associate Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies, recommended the purchase of a large collection of Fingesten’s works, including 154 items, that had been assembled by an unknown collector, possibly bibliophile Fridolf Johnson, editor of the American Artist Magazine for several years, and was being offered by a New York State antiquarian. The CU Art Museum purchased this collection with funds generously provided by the Program in Jewish Studies, and the Fingesten Collection is now part of the CU Art Museum’s Permanent Collection.
The selection on display during CU Boulder’s Week of Jewish Culture includes fifteen works and is only meant to provide a first glimpse of the extraordinary range and virtuosity of Fingesten’s art, which includes provocative and often humorous Kafkaesque imagery and potent literary citations, which increasingly echo the darkness enveloping Europe.
Little is known about Fingesten’s early years, though there is agreement that he studied art in Vienna and Munich, and traveled to America, where he spent four years and witnessed the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. It is also known that he traveled to China and Australia, until in 1913 he settled in Berlin where he enjoyed great popularity as a book and magazine illustrator. He fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and settled in Milan, where he built a circle of patrons who commissioned and avidly collected his works, including the architect Gianni Mantero, his greatest collector, for whom Fingesten created more than 90 bookplates—three of which are here displayed—until he was confined to the Fascist internment camp of Civitella del Tronto in 1940, and then transferred in 1941 to that of Ferramonti-Tarsia near Cosenza, Calabria. He died shortly after the liberation of the camp in 1943, apparently as the result of a wound infection after surgery in a military hospital.
2011-12 CU Art Museum exhibitions and programs are made possible in part through the generosity and support of the HBB Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Student Arts and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) fees, and the generosity of the CU Art Museum’s benefactors and members.
Please visit http://cuartmuseum.colorado.edu/ for more information about CU Art Museum exhibitions and Programs or call: 303-492-8300
CU’s Week of Jewish Culture incorporates the theme of Movers: Art and Conscience this year with authors, scholars and artists from around the world highlighting the visual aspects of Jewish culture paying close attention to Jewish forms of visual arts. The Week of Jewish Culture is dedicated to the exploration of 3500 years of Jewish culture, including its current, most cutting-edge manifestations!
Please visit jewishstudies.colorado.edu or call 303.492.7143 for more information.