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Felix Nussbaum

Felix Nussbaum

*  1904 Osnabrück
† 1944 Auschwitz

Felix Nussbaum was born in Osnabrück on December 11, 1904. In 1922/23 he studies at the Hamburg State School of Applied Arts. In 1923 he attends the private Lewin-Funcke-School in Berlin, where he is a student of Willy Jäckel. In 1924/25 he is a student of the Berlin School of Fine and Applied Arts. In 1928/29 he becomes master student of Hans Meid. As of 1929 he has a studio together with the Polish painter and his later partner Felka Platek. Felix Nussbaum receives a scholarship for the Villa Massimo in Rome in 1932.
His Berlin studio is set on fire by National Socialists in 1933, some 150 works fall victim to the flames. Nussbaum is put under pressure because of his Jewish belief. His scholarship at the Villa Massimo was at first extended by three months, but it was then cancelled because of political quarrels with other students. Nussbaum has to leave right away and goes to Alassio.
In 1935 Felix Nussbaum and Felka Platek are in Paris, from where they travel to Oostende in Belgium. James Ensor writes an expertise on Nussbaum's painting, which enables him to register with the Belgian authorities. He changes his place of residence in Belgium several times. The couple lives in Brussels as of 1937, they are denied Belgian citizenship. As German troops march into Belgium in 1940, Nussbaum is arrested as a hostile foreigner. He can escape from the detention camp in Saint-Cyprien and goes back to Brussels. Felix Nussbaum hides his paintings with two friends in 1942, he hides himself in the appartment of the Belgian sculptor Dolf Ledel. Because of the smell of turpentine, which could reveal his hiding place, he works in the basement of the house of an art dealer that he is friends with. The persecution of the Jews become his main theme in the 1940s, he makes a number of extraordinary self portraits. The most haunting picture is his "Selbstbildnis mit Judenpass" (Self Portrait with Jewish Passport) from 1943. In 1943 Nussbaum and his wife return to their apartment where they are arrested by the German Wehrmacht on June 20, 1944. They are deported to Auschwitz.
Felix Nussbaum is one of the main representatives of New Objectivity, even though his oeuvre is incomplete. His hometown Osnabrück opens the Felix-Nussbaum-House in 1998, where 170 works, some two thirds of this oeuvre, are shown.
Felix Nussbaum dies in Auschwitz on July 31, 1944.