Erna Pinner, Rosy Lilienfeld, Amalie Seckbach, and Ruth Cahn were among the first women artists in Frankfurt to enjoy professional success. Throughout the Roaring Twenties, these four Jewish women left their mark on Frankfurt’s art scene, published and exhibited internationally, cultivated a cosmopolitan lifestyle, and competed with their male colleagues. When the National Socialists seized power, their careers came to an abrupt end. From then on, they were persecuted as Jews and their works ostracized; later, after the end of World War II, they were largely forgotten. Now, “Back into the Light” is at long last bringing them back to the public eye.
The departure point is an article by art historian Sascha Schwabacher, published May 1935 in the Frankfurter Israelitisches Gemeindeblatt, a German-language Jewish newspaper in Frankfurt. Schwabacher recalls her visits to the studios of the four artists and describes their personalities—at a time when these women had no more than limited job opportunities in Germany as a result of the persecution they suffered at the hands of the National Socialists. The lecture delves into these four studio visits, and in doing so, it brings the Frankfurt art scene of the 1920s back to life, making palpable the disruption Nazi rule meant for the four artists’ work and lives.