Hans Feibusch: The Unseen Drawings
18 January – 5 March 2017
A survey of work by the 'degenerate' artist who left the contents of his studio to the gallery.
Just as Chichester doesn’t find its way onto many art maps, the DeLonghi print room is easily missed on a visit to Pallant House. And so the darkened, reverential space feels like a well-kept secret twice over.
But from January it will be host to an artist who also deserves to be better known. Hans Feibusch fled from Nazi Germany to work for six decades in a studio in North London. By the time of his arrival in the UK, he already had the inadvertent honour to be included upon a list of ‘Degenerate artists’, whose work failed to embody the ideals of fascism.
By the time he died, in 1998, he was the last living Degenerate, having outlived colleagues like Paul Klee, Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann. But dying four weeks short of his 100th birthday, his centenary gift to the world was a bequest of his studio contents to Pallant: around 80 paintings, 50 sculptures, several hundred drawings and 50 prints.
It has taken almost twenty years, but the gallery is ready to show a group of his drawings for the first time. Visitors can expect figurative sketches and mythological studies for mural projects - many of which found their way onto English churches.
Modern art still manages to outrage sections of the population, but we are far enough through the 21st century to find the notion of degenerate art or Entartete Kunst perfectly sinister. And yet the life work and generosity of Hans Feibusch offers a salutary lesson about the treatment of refugees.