Our Mission and Vision
30 years ago, I was introduced to the artwork of Fritz Ascher. I had never heard about him before and not many other people had at that time.
The more I saw of his work, the more I realized that he was an extraordinaire artist, who was not alone, but suffered a fate that befell a rather large group of artists, whose careers were interrupted or destroyed by the Nazi terror regime.
Many of these artist, like Fritz Ascher, never received the recognition and acknowledgement which they deserved, after 1945.
The strength and artistic integrity of Fritz Ascher’s work, has driven me to try changing that.
In 2014, I founded the Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc., which re-discovers such forgotten artists and introduces their unique artistic voices to a larger public.
We present these artists in their historical context, the context of European and Modern art, through international research initiatives and collaborations with institutions on exhibitions and publications.
We hope to initiate interest and dialogue in contemporary society about these artists, and the inherent questions their life poses about individuality, artistic and human integrity in the face of conditions of extreme duress and tyranny.
We recognize that even more than 70 years after the end of the fascist tyranny we still have not fully grasped all that was lost during the terror years of the 20th century.
Realizing what was lost may help us to develop ideas and strategies to deal with extreme adversity, we can learn from those who kept their human and artistic integrity while being persecuted and hunted.
The Nazi terror regime has certainly provided a blueprint in the strangulation of individual freedom, but it was by no means the only dictatorial regime, which relentlessly suppressed individual and artistic freedom during the 20 century.
The Stalinist terror of the late 20ies and 50ies in the former Soviet Union, China’s long march and great leap policies under Mao ZeDong, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain and the authoritarian takeovers of Iran and Greece during the 20th century give ample examples of suppression, tyranny and the destruction of freedom and with it the freedom of expression.
We celebrate those who withstood these powers and believe that by showing their work, we can inspire reflection about authenticity, creativity and resilience in the face of adversity, today.
We believe that, by exhibiting the work of artists, who, under great personal danger, refused to give up their integrity, we can provide today’s audience and society at large with valuable examples of how humanity can overcome the powers of darkness.
We hope to provide the individual critical spirit with food for thought in today’s world, against any type of suppression, may it be of ideological, commercial or religious origin.
Rachel Stern, Founding Director and CEO
Board of Directors
Rachel Stern, Founding Director and CEO
Rachel Stern is the Founding Director and CEO of The Fritz Ascher Society. Born and educated in Germany, she worked for ten years in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She has also independently organized numerous art exhibitions, and has written extensively about art. She is a 2002 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a 2017 recipient of the Hans and Lea Grundig Prize. Currently a member of ArtTable, the College Art Association, the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association, and the Foreign Press Association, she resides in New York.
Ori Z. Soltes, Founding Director
Ori Z. Soltes is Professor of Theology, History and Art History at Georgetown University. Since 1997 he is a Founding Director of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP). A former Director of the B’nai B’rit Klutznick National Jewish Museum Museum in Washington, D.C., he has extensive experience in developing and executing exhibition concepts. He resides in Washington, D.C.
Steve Orlikoff, Founding Director
Steve Orlikoff is an international lawyer specializing in the Middle East and Africa. Orlikoff is a graduate of The University of Southern California, Cum Laude, and California Western School of Law. His many accomplishments include Honorary Consul to the Ivory Coast, and restoring and donating a Tunisian Synagogue to the Sylvia Plotkin Judaica Museum in Phoenix Arizona. Orlikoff is a member of the State Bar of New York, Texas, and the United States Supreme Court. He resides in New York City and the UAE.