Eva Frankfurther artist (1930-1959)

Stateless Person

(private collection)

description A half-length portrait of a shaven-headed individual - deliberately portrayed as neither one sex nor the other - seen in three-quarters profile and facing left, wearing a collarless, partially unbuttoned, bluish shirt. Frankfurther uses a subdued palette of brown and mauve tones to underline the fragility and vulnerability of the sitter. She created the portrait as many stateless people, displaced by the war, began to drift across Europe without papers. This spectacle had a tremendous effect on the artist - as on many of her generation - and is reflected in her choice of a person of indeterminate ethnicity since, she explained, she wanted to illustrate 'the whole of humanity'. When the work was exhibited in 1955 in the East End Academy's Annual Exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, it was commended by the critic of the 'Jewish Chronicle', who instructed the other contributors that if they were 'portraitists, let them paint people in the flesh before the like of Eva Frankfurther's 'Stateless Person', and by the 'Yorkshire Observer', who noted that 'one of this winter's exhibitors is a gifted young woman called Eva Frankfurther, who has, at her own request, gone on to the late shift of a catering business, so that she can spend the daylight hours in painting portraits. She has an expressionist style and a probing feeling for character.' Mervyn Levy, devoting a paragraph to the artist in 'Art News and Review', drew attention to her 'distinguished portraits'. Following her death, he cited this review in the introduction he contributed to the book 'Eva Frankfurther: People', published in 1961, where he further explained that: 'She was greatly perturbed [...] by the predicament of the modern refugee; the politically displaced ones, homeless and stateless, who comprise one of the most profoundly tragic phenomenon of our time'. He described the painting poetically as a crystallisation of 'her vision of the lost ones of the world. The beauty of this conception, immersed in the depths of a haunting sadness, strikes to the heart. The delicate shades of smoky blue, the fragile violet overtones of the exposed and unprotected head, evoke a mood of overwhelming poignancy. It is a remarkable and tragic symbol of the age of shifting populations.' When the work was shown at Frankfurther's retrospective at the Ben Uri in 1962 it was described in the 'Jewish Chronicle' as 'the finest thing here, for it is compassionate without being sentimental and a type without losing personality'.

date c. 1955

location Whitechapel

dimensions 76 x 55 cm

medium oil on paper

exhibition history 'East End Academy', Whitechapel Art Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX, 17 Dec 1955–12 Jan 1956, (77), £5; 'Tercentenary Exhibition of Contemporary Anglo-Jewish Artists', 15 Nov– 23 Dec 1956, Ben Uri Art Gallery, 14 Berners Street, London W1, (42); 'Eva Frankfurther 1930-1959: Retrospective Exhibition', Ben Uri Art Gallery, 14 Berners Street, London W1, 14 Feb-9 March 1962, (34); 'Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile in Britain, c. 1933-45', Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, 108A Boundary Road, London, NW8 ORH, 2009, (34).

literature M. Levy, 'Art News and Review', 24 December 1955; Anon., 'The Jewish Chronicle': "Art Notes. East End Academy", 30 December 1955; Anon., 'The Times Educational Supplement', 6 January 1956, illus.; M. Levy (an Appreciation), 'Eva Frankfurther: People' (London: Gilchrist Studios, 1961), p. 5, and illus. p. 17; Anon., 'The Jewish Chronicle', 23 Feb 1962; ed., B. Planskoy, 'Eva Frankfurther 1930-1959: Paintings, lithographs and drawings' (London: Peter Halban, 2001), illus. p. 113; eds., R. Dickson and S. MacDougall, 'Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile in Britain, c. 1933-45', (London: Ben Uri Gallery and Museum), 2009), pp. 39-40 and illus., p. 40.; J. Gulliver, 'Camden New Journal', 11 December 2014.

reference 79-f1