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Biographical/Historical Information

Michel Fingesten was born in 1884 in Silesia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) to an Austrian Jewish Father and a mother from a Jewish family in Trieste. He studied from 1900-02 at the Akademie der bildenden Kunste in Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl. After his studies he travelled to the United States, Australia, and finally Palermo for a few years before going to Munich to work as an artist. In Munich he studied in the atelier of Franz von Stuck, and later worked in Munich. He moved to Milan in 1935 due to worsening anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany. He primarily etched Ex Libris, and is considered one of the most innovative German bookplate designers of the 20th century. His grotesque, erotic and fully modernist compositions led his work to be categorized as degenerate by Italian fascists. Due to his Jewish background the Italian fascists interned him in Civitella del Tronto, followed by a concentration camp in Ferramonti-Tarsia/Kalabrien. He died in 1943.

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Fingesten, Michel: Ex Libris, Daniel Griffith, Leo Baeck Institute, 2002.32.