The Making of An Englishman: Fred Uhlman, A Retrospective, Press Release

13 November 2017

We are delighted to announce that our Fred Uhlman retrospective will open on Wednesday 24th January, running until Sunday 27th May 2018. With a collection of works never seen together before, we explore the life and work of an important artist who lived just minutes from Burgh House. Supported by Arts Council England, the exhibition will tour to the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle in June 2018.

Press Release:

The Making of an Englishman: Fred Uhlman, A Retrospective

Burgh House, London: 24th January- 27th May 2018

Touring to Hatton Gallery, Newcastle:  9th June-11th August 2018

Burgh House & Hampstead Museum is pleased to announce a retrospective exhibition of the work of German émigré artist, Fred Uhlman.

The Making of an Englishman is the first UK retrospective of Uhlman’s work in 50 years and the first exhibition of the artist’s work in Hampstead, where he lived for many years and was so influential in establishing a refugee community. The exhibition brings together paintings and drawings dating from 1928 to 1971, most notably a selection of early Mediterranean scenes, a number of drawings executed whilst in internment on the Isle of Man during the Second World War, loaned from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the later Welsh landscapes for which he became well known, many of which have never been exhibited. The exhibition will also include previously unseen archival material and objects of personal collection including a number of items from Uhlman’s seventy two piece collection of African sculpture, the majority of which is now on permanent display at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, as well as representations of the artist by celebrated Dadaist, Kurt Schwitters, fellow Hampstead resident, Milein Cosman, Polish-Jewish painter and printmaker, Jankel Adler and sculptress of luminaries, Karin Jonzen.

Uhlman had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Le Niveau in Paris in 1936. In London he exhibited at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1938, and from then on he exhibited regularly in one man shows as well as mixed exhibitions throughout Britain. Uhlman’s work was also included in the Exhibition of Twentieth Century German Art at the New Burlington Galleries in 1938- the first and last major exhibition in which art produced in Nazi occupied countries was displayed (until the end of the war)- under the heading ‘artists now working in this country’.  After 1945 he became internationally known, exhibiting, for example, at the Graphisches Kabinett, Bremen in 1953. A large scale exhibition of his work was last held at the Leighton House Museum in London in 1968 and he has since been largely forgotten. A selection of Uhlman’s internment drawings was exhibited as part of an exhibition at Ben Uri Gallery in 2009 and in 2013 the Freudental synagogue held an exhibition of his work some miles north of his hometown of Stuttgart.

Uhlman’s internment drawings, all executed in 1940, are at once potent and poignant, each a strikingly affective response to the torture of captivity, his belief in the culpability of the clergy for the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany and his horror of events unfolding in Europe. Many feature a child, an iconographic symbol of hope and of ‘joy and liberty’ inspired by his new-born daughter Caroline. He described this figure as ‘marching with sure, unfaltering steps through the valley of death and terror – totally undisturbed, untouchable and triumphant’. By contrast, Uhlman’s paintings of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have often been described as ‘naïve’, colourful and, latterly, romantic. Alternately fiery and brooding, and yet always undoubtedly meticulous, the landscapes he produced in North Wales in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s evoke Uhlman’s feeling for ‘the loneliness and overwhelming grandeur of the country’.  

The Uhlmans settled in Hampstead in 1938 where they co-founded the Artists’ Refugee Committee- assisting the flight of many artists, including John Heartfield and Oskar Kokoschka amongst others from Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Munich Agreement- and the Free German League of Culture.  In 1946 Uhlman, along with UNESCO Arts Councillor and fellow Hampstead resident, Richard Carline, Stephen Bone and Klaus Meyer, was one of the founders of the Hampstead Artist’s Council, designed to provide support and exhibition space for local artists. The Making of an Englishman: Fred Uhlman A Retrospective seeks not only to celebrate Uhlman’s life and work and his unique contribution to Hampstead’s cultural and political history, but also to reflect on one of the most turbulent periods in British/European history, as well as the universally relevant themes of identity and migration.

An expanded version of the exhibition, hung thematically, will tour to the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle in June 2018.

Julie Milne, Chief Curator of Galleries, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums:

“We’re delighted to work with Burgh House to reunite so many of Uhlman’s paintings with objects from his African collection and his portrait by Kurt Schwitters. This exhibition, which will tour to the Hatton Gallery in June 2018, is a fantastic opportunity to share his work and collection with a widespread audience across the country.”

 

Notes to Editors:

 

Artist Biography

 

Manfred [Fred] Uhlman (1901–1985) was born on 19th January 1901 in Stuttgart, Germany, the eldest child of Ludwig Uhlman (1869–c.1943), a textile merchant, and his wife, Johanna Grombacher (1879–c.1943), both of whom were later to perish at Theresienstadt concentration camp. Uhlman studied law at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich, and Tübingen, graduating with a doctorate in 1923. In 1927 he joined the Social Democrat Party, becoming its official legal representative in 1932. In March 1933, after a warning that his arrest was imminent because of his political affiliations, he fled to Paris. There, unable to work as a lawyer and encouraged by his cousin Paul Elsas, who was a painter, and Paul Westheim, a German refugee art historian, who had promoted unknown talents in the Weimar republic, Uhlman started to paint successfully in a naïve and colourful style.

 

In April 1936 he moved to Tossa del Mar, a small fishing village in Spain, where he met his future wife Diana Page Croft. Shortly thereafter the Spanish Civil War broke out and in August he returned to Paris. On 3rd September, with no money and unable to speak English, Uhlman immigrated to Britain. He and Diana were married and they moved to 47 Downshire Hill in Hampstead in the autumn of 1938. The Uhlman’s home became a haven for refugee artists, among them John Heartfield, pioneer of photomontage, who lived there for five years.  In December 1938 Fred and Diana helped to found the Artists’ Refugee Committee and in 1939 Uhlman became the Free German League of Culture’s first Chairman. In June 1940, nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Uhlman, along with thousands of other ‘enemy aliens’ was interned by the British government at Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man. He was released six months later and reunited with his wife and daughter, born during his internment.  A selection of the drawings he produced in internment were published by Jonathan Cape, under the title Captivity, in 1946. Uhlman is also the author of The Making of an Englishman, 1960 and the enduringly popular novella, Reunion, 1971 (adapted for film by Harold Pinter in 1989 and for stage by Ronan Wilmot in 2010).

 

Uhlman had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Le Niveau in Paris in 1936. In London he exhibited at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1938, and from then on he exhibited regularly in one man shows as well as mixed exhibitions throughout Britain. Uhlman’s work was also included in the Exhibition of Twentieth Century German Art at the New Burlington Galleries in 1938- the first and last major exhibition in which art produced in Nazi occupied countries was displayed (until the end of the war)- under the heading ‘artists now working in this country’.  After 1945 he became internationally known, exhibiting, for example, at the Graphisches Kabinett, Bremen (1954). A large scale exhibition of his work was last held at the Leighton House Museum in London in 1968 and he has since been largely forgotten.

 

Uhlman became a collector of African sculpture long before it became fashionable to do so. He was able to amass a large and important collection at a time when it was still possible to do so with modest expenditure. In 1983 he donated his seventy two piece collection to the Hatton Gallery, where a selection is on permanent display.

 

Uhlman’s work is represented in the UK in the collections of the Arts Council, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, and The Imperial War Museum, The British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London amongst others.

 

Curators

 

Exhibition curated by Nicola Baird and Rebecca Lodge, Curator, Burgh House & Hampstead Museum.

 

Publication

 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication including essays by Professor Charmian Brinson, Professor Rüdiger Görner, Rachel Dickson, Anna Müller-Härlin and Nicola Baird with a Foreword by Sir Norman Rosenthal.

 

Special Events

 

Introductory talk by Maureen Kendler followed by a screening of the 1989 adaptation of Uhman’s novella Reunion directed by Jerry Schatzberg, Thursday 19th April 2018 from 7pm

 

Talk by Monica Bohm-Duchen on Thursday 15th February 2018 7-8pm

 

Hampstead based walking tours beginning at Burgh House, devised and led by Marilyn Greene on Sunday 25th March and Sunday 20th May 2018, please check website for times and meeting places.

 

Burgh House

 

The Hampstead Museum at Burgh House, built during Queen Anne’s reign in 1704, was founded in 1979 by local historians Christopher and Diana Wade, with loans from Camden Libraries, Hampstead Artists Council and the Heath & Hampstead Society and achieved Arts Council Accreditation in 2011. The collection of Burgh House & Hampstead Museum includes work by local artists, such as Sydney Arrobus, Dorothy Bohm, Mari L'anson, Bette Greenhalf, P. F. Naylor and Gillian Lawson as well as the largest body of publicly accessible work by Helen Allingham in the country. Highlights of the collection include work by C. R. W. Nevinson, Fred Uhlman, Donald Towner and Duncan Grant.

 

Hatton Gallery

 

The Hatton Gallery is managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on behalf of Newcastle University. It has undergone a £3.8m redevelopment and has just reopened in September 2017. The Gallery has a fantastic collection of paintings stretching from 14th century to the present day, and is dedicated to facilitating research of its collection.

 

Visitor/Listings Information:

 

Admission: Free Entry

 

Opening Times: 12pm - 5pm Wednesday - Friday & Sunday (apart from special events)

 

Address: Burgh House and Hampstead Museum, New End Square, Hampstead, London NW3 1LT

 

Nearest London Underground Station: Hampstead

 

Nearest London Overground Station: Hampstead Heath

  

For more information, interviews and images, contact: 

 

Nicola Baird

 

nicolabaird@aol.com

 

Or

 

Rebecca Lodge

 

Rebecca.lodge@burghhouse.org.uk