Fritz Ascher (17 October 1893 – 26 March 1970 in Berlin, Germany) was a German artist, whose work is characterized by Expressionist and Symbolist sensitivity. In paintings, works on paper and poetry he explored existential questions and themes of contemporary social and cultural relevance, of spirituality and mythology. Ascher’s expressive strokes and intense colors create emotionally intense and authentic work.
Re-discovered in 2016, with an international retrospective and a scholarly publication, Fritz Ascher’s strong and unique artistic voice has taken its rightful place in German Expressionism.
Fritz Ascher was born in Berlin, on October 17, 1893, the son of the dental surgeon and businessman Dr. Hugo Ascher (born Neugard July 27, 1859 – died August 18, 1922 Berlin) and Minna Luise Ascher (born Schneider; Berlin, January 17, 1867 – died October 17, 1938). His sisters Charlotte Hedwig and Margarete Lilly (Grete) were born October 8, 1894 and June 11, 1897. Hugo Ascher converted his three children to Protestantism in 1901, his wife remains Jewish. Hugo Ascher’s business was successful, and in 1909 the family moves into a villa in Niklasstraße 21-23 in Berlin-Zehlendorf, built by the prominent architect Professor Paul Schultze-Naumburg.
Recommended by Max Liebermann, Fritz Ascher studied at the Art Academy Königsberg, where it’s dean Ludwig Dettmann, co-founder of the Berlin Secession, had hired dynamic teachers who emphasized the value of a solid, practical education. Among others, the artist befriended Eduard Bischoff, who painted a portrait of him in 1912. In Berlin, Ascher studied with Lovis Corinth, Adolf Meier, and Kurt Agthe.
Ascher was active in the networks of the Berlin avant-garde, and knew many artists personally. Influenced by Expressionist artists such as the older Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Wassily Kandinsky, and his contemporaries Max Beckmann, Georges Rouault and Ludwig Meidner, Ascher found his very own artistic language.
He traveled extensively and started exhibiting his work. In 1914, Ascher and his friend and fellow painter Franz Domscheit (Pranas Domšaitis) presumably traveled to Norway and met Eduard Munch in Oslo. In 1918–19, the two friends stayed in Bavaria. Here, Ascher befriended the artists the Blue Rider and the weekly Simplicissmus, among them Gustav Meyrink, Alfred Kubin, George Grosz and Käthe Kollwitz, and sent his paintings to various exhibitions and galleries, including the Glaspalast.
Ascher’s expressive strokes and intense colors with descriptive outlines and areal color combine elements of Expressionism with those of Symbolism. His early work is very multifaceted in themes, the techniques used and the style of painting. The result is a fascinating field of tension between small intimate graphite drawings and large-format polychrome figural compositions, between portraits and biblical scenes, character and milieu studies or between representations of literary and allegorical figures. At the same time, he responded to contemporary themes, such as the street fights of the November Revolution of 1918.