The Artist Birthday Series

Otto Freundlich

In 1942, on the run as a refugee, he was hidden by a peasant family in Saint-Martin-de-Fenouillet, but he was betrayed and denounced, and soon after arrested on 23 February 1943. He was taken into custody and held at a camp in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques. On March 4, he was deported to the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, and was killed upon arrival on March, 9.


Although Otto Freunlich has been largely overlooked by history since being vilified by the Nazis, a documentary Das Geht Nur Langsam (It Takes Time) was released in 2012. The film traces his vision to build streets of sculptures running through Europe, symbolizing his utopian ideas for a world society. (See below, the 8 minute film is in German, with English subtitles)

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2 thoughts on “Otto Freundlich

  1. here here!
    why was this man omitted from MOMA’s big 2013 Abstraction Show?
    an egregious error if their remit is the emergence of “Western” abstract art.
    and such a poignant story to boot, the refugee pacifist German betrayed by the French, France where he had worked so much, not least his iconic, front rank 1911 abstract image, yes 1911, still hanging Paris.

    1. Thanks for the comment William. It has been a very interesting journey compiling these bios, and some stories, such as Freundlich’s, need to be told before they are lost to history all together. My main goal with this project was to find artists that I found inspiring for various reasons, and celebrate them here. I tried to focus on the more obscure or “forgotten” artists, though some well known artists have inspired me immensely and so they are celebrated as well. But it is comments such as yours that make this project so worthwhile for me…thank you so much!

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