Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack. Desolation: Internment Camp, Orange, N.S.W. 1941.
Print, relief. Woodcut, printed in black ink. Printed image 21.8 h x 13.4 w cm, sheet 25.0 h x 20.0 w cm.
Hirschfeld-Mack (1893–1965) was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Biographer Tim Roberts writes that Hirschfeld-Mack studied art, most notably Bauhaus, with a keen interest on experimenting with colour and light. He was multi talented. He built a machine to play moving projections; he was a musician; and he also performed on stage. Hirschfeld-Mack was forced to immigrate to Britain in 1936 when the Nazi Army rose to power. This was due to the fact that he was partly Jewish, and in spite of the fact that he was a decorated lieutenant who served in the German Army in WWI.
Hirschfeld-Mack was deported to Australia in 1940 for being an ‘enemy alien’. He was moved around three detention centres for two years (Hay and Orange in New South Wales and Tatura in Victoria). Throughout this time, he continued to paint with whatever meagre materials he could muster. He also taught his fellow detainees about art.
Desolation, Hirschfeld-Mack’s piece above, makes a devastating comment about his experiences resulting from WWII.
Roberts chronicles that Hirschfeld-Mack was released from detention in 1942 due to the sponsorship of Sir James Darling, headmaster of Geelong Church of England Grammar School. Hirschfeld-Mack became the school’s art teacher, putting on elaborate exhibitions of his students’ work and he continued to paint, write, create and exhibit his own work. His sponsor and patron, Darling, said of Hirschfeld-Mack: “He was an almost perfect man… a beautiful character and an original teacher”. One of his pupils said Hirschfeld-Mack was a
serene, quiet man—so fair that he glowed with the pale radiance of saints in stained-glass windows.
Image source: National Gallery of Australia. Post by ZeeZee.