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Biographical/Historical Information

Anne Ratkowski (1903-1996) grew up as the daughter of a physician in an upper middle class home in Berlin. She showed artistic talent from an early age and received formal training from a private teacher from 1915 to 1920, when she became a student at the art school of the painter Arthur Segal and his lifelong disciple. Ratkowski gradually established herself as a painter during the 1920s, praised by critics as a young, promising talent. With the support of Arthur Segal she showed her work in several group shows organized by the Novembergruppe and some other venues. In 1939, Ratkowski fled to Antwerp, Belgium. Reports on how she survived are somewhat contradictory. According to Mordecai Ardon, Ratkowski survived the war years as a factory worker after her marriage to the salesman Paul Wangenheim. According to another account she lived in hiding and continued painting under most difficult circumstances with the help of private collectors who bought her paintings sporadically. Among the supporters was the Belgian Cultural Department which bought one of her self portraits in 1943. In 1946 a one- woman exhibit of her work opened to great critical acclaim at the gallery “Le Régent” in Brussels. The New York based German-language paper Aufbau reported on paintings saved from the Berlin Jewish Museum, mentioning in particular her “Portrait of a Boy.” 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. An attempt to reintroduce her to a German audience was made in 1983, when Eberhard Roters, then director at Berlinische Galerie, discovered her work while preparing an exhibit titled, Emigrated from Berlin. In 1988 the Leo Baeck Institute showed a Ratkoswki retrospective, followed by several exhibits abroad.

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Ratkowski, Anne: [Four Boys], Leo Baeck Institute, 97.25.