17 October 1893|
26 March 1970|
|Education||Max Liebermann; Lovis Corinth; art academy Königsberg|
|Known for||Painting, Drawing, Printmaking|
Fritz Ascher (17 October 1893 in Berlin, Germany – 26 March 1970 in Berlin, Germany) was a German Expressionist, whose artwork is characterized by bold brushstrokes and expressionist colors combined with a strong commitment to authenticity.
Early life and work
Fritz Ascher was born on 17 October 1893 as the son of the dental surgeon and businessman Dr. Hugo Ascher (born Neugard 27 July 1859 - died 18 August 1922 Berlin) and Minna Luise Ascher (born Schneider; Berlin 17 January 1867 - died 17 October 1938 Berlin) in Berlin. On 8 October 1894 his sister Charlotte Hedwig was born, and on 11 June 1897 his sister Margarete Lilly (Grete). From 1908 the family lived in a villa in Niklasstraße 21-23 in Zehlendorf, which at that time did not formally belong to Berlin yet, with main house, worker’s and garden house and garage, built by the prominent architect Professor Paul Schultze-Naumburg.
Fritz Ascher’s talent showed early. At the age of 16 he studied with Max Liebermann, who gave him the "Künstlereinjährige," an art diploma, and recommended him to the art academy Königsberg. There the artist befriended among others Eduard Bischoff, who painted a portrait of him in 1912.
Around 1913 Ascher was back in Berlin, where he found his artistic language, surrounded by artists like Ludwig Meidner, Jakob Steinhardt and Emil Nolde. He studied in the painting schools of Lovis Corinth, Adolf Meyer and Kurt Agthe and befriended Franz Domscheit (Pranas Domšaitis), with whom he probably traveled right before World War I to Norway and met Edvard Munch in Oslo. During a longer stay in Bavaria and Munich in 1919 Domscheit (Pranas Domšaitis) draws into Aschers sketchbook and Ascher draws a portrait of his friend. Ascher met the artists of the Blue Rider and befriended the artists of the satirical German weekly magazine Simplicissimus, among others Gustav Meyrink, Alfred Kubin, George Grosz and Käthe Kollwitz. Like those of the artists and writers surrounding him, many of his works from these years have an emphatic-expressive religiosity. In this atmosphere his interest in old sages and myths was kindled. "The Loner (Der Vereinsamte)" or "Golem" (1916) show Ascher’s powerful expressionistic pictorial language and interest in the human condition.
When Hitler came to power, Ascher’s life changed dramatically. He was reported to the NSDAP as politically suspect, his paintings were classified as "Degenerate Art," and as early as 1933 he was not able to work. After brief imprisonment in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the Potsdam prison, Ascher survived the Nazi regime hiding for three years in the partly bombed villa Lassenstr. 28 in Berlin-Grunewald, cared for by Martha Grassmann (b. Fenske; b. 16 January 1881 - d. 24 January 1971 Berlin), a close friend of his mother. During these years he wrote poems.
On 29 April 1945, Berlin-Grunewald was liberated by the American army. Fritz Ascher was a changed man. He stayed with Martha Grassmann in Berlin-Grunewald at Bismarckallee 26. Ascher's studio was a large semi-circle room with adjoining winter garden. During the winter, when the studio could not be heated, Ascher created works on paper: ink drawings, watercolors and gouaches. In the early 1950s he had a phase of intense work, during which he worked every day until 6:00-7:00am. Again and again phases of tremendous creative productivity were interrupted by times of depression, self-talk and sleeplessness, in which he was not approachable.
As an artist he now came into his own, searching for and developing forms suiting his genuine feelings. Ascher now made portraits almost exclusively from memory, on paper. Living close to the Grunewald, Berlin’s expansive city forest, the artist observed and painted nature in different light, at different day-times and seasons, which he re-created in his studio. He created powerful images of trees and meadows, sunrises and sundowns, all devoid of human presence, in which sun and light are a dominant force. Very often the light is depicted in a silvery white of mystic quality that reminds of Rembrandt. The trees have mostly heavy, strong trunks, often stand isolated or in pairs, and less often in larger groups. The horizontal line, which is never straight, is often elevated. Dramatic moments are intensified by expressive colors. The compositions are innovative in light, color and rhythm. Trees and suns seem to have symbolic meaning. The formally inventive and atmospherically dense landscapes are passionate soul paintings that reflect Ascher’s complex emotional life. With expressive colors, bold brushstrokes and reckless surface treatment Ascher found a powerful voice in post-war Germany.
Fritz Ascher died on 26 March 1970.
Fritz Ascher was a member of the Berufsverband Bildender Künstler Berlins (1946–1970).
- 2016-18 - "'Leben ist Glühn'. Der Expressionist Fritz Ascher/'To Live is to Glow with Passion'. The Expressionist Fritz Ascher", Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Osnabrück, 25 September 2016 - 15 January 2017; Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz - MUSEUM GUNZENHAUSER, Chemnitz, 4 March - 18 June 2017; Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in der Villa Oppenheim, Berlin, 8 December 2017 – 11 March 2018; Potsdam Museum – Forum für Kunst und Geschichte, Potsdam, 10 December 2017 – 11 March 2018; Klinger Forum e.V., Leipzig, 22 April - 10 September 2018
- 2016/17 - "Golem - Die Legende vom Menschen", Jüdisches Museum, Berlin, 23 September 2016 - 29 January 2017
- 2015-16 - Verfahren. "Wiedergutmachung" im geteilten Berlin (»Making Amends« Compensation and Restitution Cases in Divided Berlin), Aktives Museum, Berlin, 9 October 2015 - 14 January 2016; Landgericht Berlin/Amtsgericht Mitte, Berlin, 29 September - 18 November 2016
- 2014 - Zeitenwende 1914. Fritz Ascher und Gert Heinrich Wollheim. Galerie d'Hamé, Mülheim/Ruhr, 28 November -
- 2013 - Diversity Destroyed. Berlin 1933-1938-1945. A City Remembers (Zerstörte Vielfalt. Berlin 1933-1938-1945. Eine Stadt erinnert sich) Kulturprojekte Berlin, information pillar Frankfurter Tor, Berlin 31 January – 10 November
- 1996 - Synagogue for the Arts, New York, 14 March – 12 April
- 1993 - International Monetary Fund Art Forum, Washington, DC, 30 March – 21 May
- 1980 - Schwarzbach Gallery, Sindelfingen, October
- 1980 - Kreissparkasse Böblingen, 21 March – 25 April 
- 1979 - Ute Freckmann Gallery, Sindelfingen, 21 - 28 July
- 1969 - Fritz Ascher: Bilder nach 1945, Galerie Springer, Berlin, Berlin
- 1947 - Das Naturerlebnis. Landschaftsbilder bekannter Künstler, Kunstamt Wilmersdorf, Berlin
- 1946 - "Fritz Ascher: Bilder nach 1945," with Bernhard Heiliger, Karl Buchholz Gallery, Berlin
- 1924 - Juryfreie Kunstschau, Berlin
- 1922 - Juryfreie Kunstschau, Berlin
- Website of the Fritz Ascher Society
- in the collection of the Jewish Museum Berlin
- see Heinz Wyrwich: In Vergessenheit geraten? Oelbilder und Gouachen von Fritz Ascher, in: Sindelfinger Zeitung, März 1980
- see Joachim M. Goldstein, "Fritz Ascher wird ein grosser Künstler", in Berliner Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland, 13 June 1969, p. 11
- F. D., Bunte Ouvertüre, in: Telegraf, Berlin, no. 39/1 from 26 May 1946, p. 5
- Website of the Fritz Ascher Society
- Wiebke Hölzer, "Kunststück", in Weltkunst, No. 129, May 2017, pp. 120-121
- Wiebke Hölzer, Fritz Ascher, in Biographisch-Bibliografisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), vol. 38, Nordhausen 2017
- Wiebke Hölzer, Religiös? Kontextualisierung der Gemälde ‘Golgatha’ (1915) und ‘Der Golem’ (1916 des Künstlers Fritz Ascher (1893-1970) / Religious? Contextualization of the paintings “Golgotha“ (1915) and “The Golem“ (1916) by the artist Fritz Ascher (1893-1970), Masterarbeit Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin 2016
- Andreas Mink, "Der Expressionist Fritz Ascher in Osnabrück", in Tachles online, 22 September 2016
- "Leben ist Glühn" Der Expressionist Fritz Ascher / "To Live is to Blaze with Passion" The Expressionist Fritz Ascher, Hrsg./Ed. Rachel Stern and Ori Z. Soltes for The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc., Cat. exh./Ausstellungskatalog Felix-Nussbaum-Haus Osnabrück (September 25 2016 - January 15, 2017), Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz MUSEUM GUNZENHAUSER, Chemnitz (March 5 - June 18, 2017), Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in der Villa Oppenheim, Berlin (December 8, 2017 - March 11, 2018), Potsdam Museum - Forum für Kunst und Geschichte, Potsdam (December 10, 2017 - March 11, 2018), Cologne: Wienand 2016
- Golem, Hrsg./Ed. Emily Bilski und Martina Lüdicke im Auftrag des Jüdischen Museums Berlin, Ausstellungskatalog/Cat. exh. Jüdisches Museum Berlin, 23. September 2016 - 29. Januar 2017, Bielefeld/Berlin 2016, p. 133
- Ori Z. Soltes, "Tradition and Transformation. Three Millenia of Jewish Arts and Architecture", Boulder, CO: Canal Street Studios 2016. pp. 165, 303
- Ori Z. Soltes, "Fritz Ascher: From Golems to Landscapes", in plundered art, 12 January 2015 (http://plundered-art.blogspot.com/2015/01/fritz-ascher-from-golems-to-landscapes.html)
- Cathryn J. Prince, "If not for the Nazis, he may have been the next Leonardo", in The Times of Israel, 17 December 2014 (http://www.timesofisrael.com/if-not-for-the-nazis-he-may-have-been-the-next-leonardo/)
- Andreas Mink, "Fritz Ascher Society gegründet", in Tachles, 29 October 2014 (http://tachles.ch/news/fritz-ascher-society-gegruendet)
- Zerstörte Vielfalt. Diversity Destroyed. Berlin 1933-1938-1945. Eine Stadt erinnert sich. A City Remembers, Hrsg. Moritz van Dülmen, Wolf Kühnelt und Bjoern Weigel, Kulturprojekte Berlin, Berlin 2013, S. 262-263 (http://www.berlin.de/2013/en/portraets/ausgewaehlte-portraets/ascher-fritz/)
- Heide Schoenemann, "Paul Wegener. Frühe Moderne im Film", Stuttgart and London 2003, pp. 101 (no. 232 "Der Golem"), 136, 142
- M.H. "Fritz Ascher" in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. 5, München/Leipzig 1992, p. 385
- Gitta Rübsaat, "Meditative Bilderwelt" in Sindelfinger Zeitung, Oktober 1980
- Heinz Wyrwich, "In Vergessenheit geraten? Ölbilder und Gouachen von Fritz Ascher" in Sindelfinger Zeitung, März 1980
- Sepp Huttenlauch, "Sehnsucht nach Licht und Freiheit" in Böblinger Zeitung, März 1980
- "Fritz Ascher: Zwei Köpfe", in Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 30 May 1969
- Joachim M. Goldstein, "Fritz Ascher wird ein grosser Künstler", in Berliner Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland, Berlin, 13 June 1969, p. 11
- "Das Naturerlebnis. Landschaftsbilder bekannter Künstler" in Der Morgen. Tageszeitung der Liberal-Demokratischen Partei Deutschlands", Berlin no. 240, 14 October 1947, p. 3
- F. D., "Bunte Ouvertüre" in: Telegraf, Berlin, no. 39/1 from 26 May 1946, p. 5
- Dresslers Kunsthandbuch, Berlin 1930, vol. 2, p. 24
- Handbuch des Kunstmarktes. Kunstadressbuch für das Deutsche Reich, Danzig und Deutsch-Oesterreich, Berlin 1926, p. 283
- Zerstörte Vielfalt. Diversity Destroyed. Berlin 1933-1938-1945. Eine Stadt erinnert sich. A City Remembers, Hrsg. Moritz van Dülmen, Wolf Kühnelt und Bjoern Weigel, Kulturprojekte Berlin, Berlin 2013, S. 262-263
- Website of the Fritz Ascher Society
- Theme Year 2013: "Diversity Destroyed" by Kulturprojekte Berlin, information pillar at Frankfurter Tor as part of the open air installation: http://www.berlin.de/2013/en/open-air-exhibitions/, and a more detailed biography on the project website: http://www.berlin.de/2013/en/portraets/ausgewaehlte-portraets/ascher-fritz/