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Anne Ratkowski

Artist 10 of 12

Ratkowski, Anne, 1903–1997: “RF Kennedy Campaigning in Southern US.”, between 1967 and 1997, Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 97.26.

Anne Ratkowski (1903–1997)


Shortly before escaping Nazi Germany, Ratkowski and her then-husband Nikolaus Braun burned their works which were too large to take with them during their escape. After arriving in the United States, she was attentive to the social changes in the country. This painting was copied from an untitled photograph. One can assume it reflects Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968. He was assassinated in June that same year, only four years after the Civil Rights Act had been passed. Ratkowski, whose work centered on close observation of her subjects, paid attention to body language, lighting and surroundings. In this painting, the politician is surrounded by several African-American bystanders in casual clothes who keep their distance from the smiling man in his suit. He offers a handshake to a man whose arms remain crossed.

Ratkowski Map.png
Philo-Atlas: Handbuch für die jüdische Auswanderung (Philo-Atlas: Manual for Jewish Emigration), Berlin: Philo GmbH, 1938.


Anne(liese) Ratkowski grew up in an upper middle-class family in Berlin. From an early age, she studied at the school of the Expressionist artist Arthur Segal. With Segal’s support she became one of the most successful representatives of the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) movement. She and her husband, Nikolaus Braun, became members of the November Group (Novembergruppe), a loosely organized union of radical artists. In 1939, Ratkowski fled to Antwerp, Belgium. Her son had been sent to England on the Kindertransport the year before. Divorced and remarried to Paul Wangenheim, she emigrated from Europe. In 1948, Ratkowski settled in the United States, where she made a living selling crafts. She had various smaller exhibits in New York during the 1970s, but by then her name had been completely forgotten in Germany. Only in recent years has her work been gradually rediscovered and featured in exhibitions in Berlin.