German Artist Rudolph Bernard Neugebauer
from the collection of Douglass A. White and Grace White

On display in the Main Gallery ~ Fairfield Arts and Convention Center

January 4, 2013 Opening Reception  6-8 PM

This exhibit, is a portion of the collection that was handed down to Douglass White’s mother, and includes etchings and wood or linoleum cuts with a few paintings and will remain on display through the end of February.

Rudolph Bernard Neugebauer was born in 1892 in Muenster, Germany, a medieval town that by the 19th century had become the hub of the German art world and the new trends of modern art and architecture, that were evolving in Europe.

In 1908 he enrolled at the Handicraft and Art Vocational School and by the fall of 1909 he was enrolled in the Royal Academy University for the Fine Arts (Königlichen akademischen Hochschule für die bildenden Künste) where he studied two years on a full scholarship. In 1910, at the age of 18, he presented his first exhibition. From 1911-1913 he studied painting at the Royal Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts in Munich (Königlichen Bayerische Akademie der bildenden Künste in München) on a full scholarship with Professor Hugo Freiherr von Habermann, one of the 11 original founding members of the Munich Secession. During this period he also studied stain glass window making in Westphalia and also trained in sculpture.

During 1913-1914 he studied at the Paris Academy of Fine Arts and immersed himself in the burgeoning French art milieu. In 1914 Rudolf had to return to Munich where he served in the war as an aerial photographer. After only three months he became ill with a serious lung inflammation, left to recover and then returned to Munich and resumed painting. He spent about a year studying in Berlin with Lovis Corinth, an early member of the Munich Secession and President of the Berlin Secession. Oddly enough, Rudolf’s work, while showing some influence from the Secession movement leaders with whom he studied, tended to be rather conservative and classical rather than infused with the garish colors and abstract shapes of emerging modern art. Edwin Scharff (1887-1955) and Paul Klee (1879-1940) were contemporaries of Rudolf in the early 20th century Munich scene.

A commemorative work of art, created by Rudolf after a vision the night his brother was killed in the 1916 war, is now in the Munich National Museum. This piece portrays graphically the agony of the German soldiers as they hopelessly fight a losing war and sacrifice their lives for an empire they know is about to dissolve.

He met his wife, concert violinist Elisabeth Helene Katherine “Else” Raabe at a spa in Borkum where he was exhibiting some of his works. They married in 1921, settled in Hamburg where Rudolf opened a studio, taught art classes, and exhibited his work.

Rudolf was primarily a professional portrait painter, doing formal portraits for royalty, political leaders, clergy, academicians, and wealthy clients, a number of which can be seen in museums, institutions, and public buildings around Germany. Traveling a great deal in Europe in the 1920s, he completed a variety of landscapes and was extremely versatile in media of oil, watercolor, pastel, pencil, woodcut, etching, sculpture, and photography.

His favorite themes were rocky coastlines and beaches, all sorts of boats, alpine scenes, buildings, villages, farms, forests and streams, still lifes, nudes, stylized tableaus, animals, graphic arts (posters, invitations, greeting cards, ex libris stamps), sculptures (primarily busts, human figures, and animals).

His favorite locations for painting and drawing were Hamburg, the Elbe river, North German countryside and fishing harbors, Alpine country, and Mediterranean scenery – particularly Holland, Venice, Florence, Torbola, and Capri.

When Hitler assumed power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the National Socialist party “requested” that Rudolf contribute a bronze bust of the führer for the party headquarters in Munich. When the Hamburger Nachtrichten, evening edition, announced the work’s completion and installation, the article included two amusing cartoons that showed humor was still alive in a Germany that was rapidly becoming a deadly serious political entity.

The Nazis did not persecute Rudolf as they did other modernist artists. When war fully engulfed Europe again, he retreated with his brushes into the woodlands north of Germany and painted flowers. He was eventually reduced to using wrapping paper and scraps of cardboard to continue painting and drawing. Rudolf remained in seclusion, supporting himself selling the works remaining in his studio until he died in 1961 at age of sixty nine.