Iconic St. Louis images part of exhibit

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The artist Max Lazarus loved the iconic images of St. Louis after he fled Nazi Germany in 1938. Now, those works are on display in the Gateway City.

The Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis hosts "Max Lazarus: Trier/St. Louis/Denver — A Jewish Artist’s Fate." It features more than 50 paintings, lithographs and synagogue designs by Lazarus, and runs at the galleries through May 7. Among them, images from around St. Louis that fascinated Lazarus, including the Old Courthouse.

Lazarus fled Germany at a time when Nazism was on the rise. His homeland became a dangerous place for a German-Jewish artist.

The curator of the exhibit, Barbel Schulte, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Lazarus was a well-regarded artist in western Germany during the 1920s and 1930s.

“But after the Nazis came to power, they systematically excluded and segregated all disliked artists — — and especially the Jewish artists — from the public art scene,” said Schulte, who is vice director and curator of the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift in Trier.

“He started from the scratch in the USA, in a foreign culture with a foreign language. But he had some success in St. Louis,” becoming a member of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild.

He might have stayed in St. Louis but came down with tuberculosis in 1942 and moved to Denver because it had a better climate for people with lung diseases. He died in Denver in 1961.

The exhibit originated in Trier and will move on to Denver after concluding in St. Louis. The show has brought renewed attention to an artist who was in danger of being lost to history.

“A fight raged between the traditionalists and the so-called modernists, and Max Lazarus found himself right between the fronts of both parties,” Schulte said. “He was too modern for the conservatives, and too traditional (that is, realistic) for the modernists. But he did not deserve such a fate.”

“Our mission is to present a diverse range of high-quality exhibits,” said Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of the Sheldon Art Galleries.

“And the story that’s being told — one of the Holocaust, and survival — is an important one to tell,” she said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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