Otto Freundlich started life as a shop-apprentice, and later studied art history in Munich and Florence. He began painting and sculpting at the age of 27, and from 1908 specialised in constructive painting, using swathes of pure colour. He came to Paris 1909, and took a studio at the ‘Bateau Lavoir’ in the Place Ravignan, where he became friendly with Picasso. He exhibited with the Cubists in Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne. Freundlich composed his first entirely abstract paintings in 1919, and also executed mosaics and stained glass windows. He became a member of the ‘Cercle et Carré ‘ group in 1930, and then of ‘Abstraction-Création’. Hitler classed him among the ‘Degenerate Artists’ and as a Jew he was deported to the concentration camp of Lublin-Maidenech (Poland) where he died in 1943. A Retrospective exhibition was held at the Galerie Rive Droite, Paris in 1954.
“The artist is a barometer of transformations. He senses them in his acts and his thoughts before they are realised in the world. When he detaches himself from the generally admitted forms and truths, he is executing the edicts of a new reality. All artistic realisations have an inclination: a narrow inclination when it is the safeguard of the artist, a large one when the artist renounces himself and his work opens mental frontiers. A forcing of barriers – social, political, spiritual – begins every historical period. Ours will for the first time accomplish the union of man with the whole earth and will thus change nostalgia and desire for far-away things into something else, certainly much greater, although everywhere within our reach.”
(Otto Freundlich in Cercle et Carré, No. 2)