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Biographical/Historical Information

Ludwig Meidner was a German expressionist painter, printmaker, illustrator, and writer. Born in in Bernstadt, Silesia, he studied at the Royal School of Art in Breslau. In 1905, he moved to Berlin and worked as a fashion illustrator and then in Paris from 1906-1907, studying at the Julien and Cormon Academies. In 1912 he began a series of "apocalyptic landscapes," his best known works. He founded the Expressionist group 'Die Pathetiker' ['The Exponents of New Pathos'] with Richard Janthur and Jakob Steinhardt. Though he was against war, he was drafted during World War I and served as a French translator. After the war, he began creating print portraits and increasingly turned to writing. He contributed to a number of left-wing journals and published some of his prose with illustrations. Meidner suffered Nazi persecution—he was fired from his teaching position in Berlin, his artwork was removed from public collections, and was placed on the Nazi's list of banned writers and artists. In 1935, Meidner moved to Cologne, teaching art at a Jewish school . He fled with his family to Great Britian in 1939, where he was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man for three years. He stayed in England, working odd jobs until he returned to Germany in 1953. In response to the horrors of the Holocaust, Meidner created a cycle of drawings he called "Massacres in Poland" or "Suffering of the Jews in Poland". In 1963, he had his first major exhibition since 1918 in Recklinghausen and Berlin. He died in Darmstadt in 1966. Meidner's artistic bequest is now part of the collections of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt.

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Meidner, Ludwig: Group of Jewish men praying, Leo Baeck Institute, 2012.001.