NUSSBAUM, FELIX (1904–1944), German painter and graphic artist. Nussbaum was born in Osnabrueck, Germany. In 1922 he left home to study at the Hamburg School for Arts and Crafts under Cesar Klein, Hans Meid, and Paul Plontke. From 1924 to 1929 he took classes at the Vereinigte Staatsschulen fuer freie und angewandte Kunst in Berlin. Some of his paintings in the style of the Neue Sachlichkeit, also revealing the influence of Karl Hofer and Henry Rousseau, were exhibited in the Berlin Sezession. In 1932 Nussbaum was awarded a scholarship at the Deutsche Akademie Villa Massimo in Rome. In Italy he started to paint neorealist landscapes. After some antisemitic incidents in the academy he left for Alassio and in 1935 moved to Belgium. During the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, Nussbaum was caught in Brussels but he was able to flee about four months later. He returned to Brussels, where he and his wife, Felka Platek, went into hiding. It was during this life of despair that he created the bulk of his most impressive paintings and self-portraits foreshadowing the extermination of the Holocaust in a surrealist manner, such as Soir (a self-portrait with his wife, 1942), Self-Portrait with ID Card, marked "J" for "Jewish," and Self-Portrait at the Easel, both painted 1943 (all in the Kulturgeschichtliches Museum, Osnabrueck). In his last known work, Die Gerippe spielen zum Tanz (1944, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum, Osnabrueck), a danse macabre reflects his hopeless situation. In 1944 he and his wife were caught by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz in one of the last trains leaving Belgium. Nussbaum and his wife did not survive the extermination camp. Only his paintings have survived and were retrieved after World War II. In 1998 his native city Osnabrueck opened a museum solely dedicated to his work, the Felix Nussbaum Haus, which was designed by the American architect Daniel *Libeskind.
E.D. Bilsky, Art and Exile, Felix Nussbaum 1904–1944 (1985); H. Guratzsch, Felix Nussbaum, 1904–1944 (2004); R. Heidt and Ch. Ebers, Felix Nussbaum (1988); P. Junk and W. Zimmer, Felix Nussbaum – Leben und Werk (1982); R. Neugebauer, Zeit im Blick – Felix Nussbaum und die Moderne (2004).
[Philipp Zschommler (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.