Self Portrait with Red Hat by Marie-Louise von Motesiczky 1938
The exhibition comprises around 90 works and includes painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography, posters, sculpture and ephemera but what's really special are the personal stories that are not only behind every work but manifest in them. This self-portrait, for example, shows the artist waving goodbye to Austria just before the Anschluss, her jolly red hat not sitting very comfortably with her desolate expression. Content is often bleak with haunted faces and blank eyes; broken hostile landscapes and ghoulish imaginings. Materials in camps were scarce so here are linocuts, paintings on wood, sketches in charcoal. Frames, if any, are basic. Yet some of the work is glorious; a pair of wonderful portraits by Kurt Schwitters and the macabre, darkly textured (massive) Organ Grinder by Ernst Eisenmayer amongst many others, repay gazing.
In the context of the second World War, these are stories that are rarely told and this small exhibition deserves a big audience. Read reviews from the FT and the Spectator to persuade you to venture to NW8.
Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art is at 108A Boundary Road, NW8. Open Mon-Thurs 10-5.30, Friday 10-3.30, Sunday 12-4. Admission £5/4. Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile in Britain c.1933-45 runs until 19 April.