Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Henryk Berlewi

Born in 1894 in Warsaw, Poland. From his early years, he manifested artistic gifts and studied in a gymnasium. At the same time he attended the Warsaw art school.

In 1910 his parents sent him to the art academy in Antwerp. Two years later he entered into the Paris "École des Beaux-Arts," where under the influence of Picasso and Braque he began to create cubist experiments.

On the eve of the the outbreak of the First World War he returned to Warsaw and had his first exhibition in the national Polish museum, "Zachęta." In 1922 he settled in Berlin, where he participated in the exhibition of the avant-garde "Novembergruppe," and also belonged to the "Storm Group." In 1924 he again returned to Warsaw and immediately published prominently in a place of honor for artistic avant-garde of Poland. In the same year there was arranged an exhibition of his constructive abstractions -- a synthesis of geometric figures with moralistic elements, which had evoked a sharp discussion and created a scandal.

B. was a member of the "Society for the Dissemination of Jewish Arts" in Warsaw, working for the Yiddish small arts theatres "Azazel" and "Ararat."

In 1926 he went away to Paris, where he broke over his experiments in the file of abstract art and returned to the graphic arts and to academic portrait painting.

During the years of the Second World War, together with his mother, whom at the age of seventy-nine by herself began to paint fantastic flower compositions, which were with great enthusiasm  became oyfgenumen through the entire French criticism, residing in Southern France. After the Liberation, he returned to Paris and forgot his artistic activity.

In 1957 the "re-discovery" in him, as founder of constructive painting. In the "Kress" gallery in Paris, when an exposition, "50 Years of Abstract Painting," exhibited to be an image from 1924 of Warsaw, and he was recognized as one of the pioneers of the arts. In 1962 he participated in the large Paris exposition in the "Palais de la Découverte," dedicated to the influence of mathematical formulas in the important art journals a letter that constitutes a substantive analysis of the abstract arts, and the socialistic realism. In February 1965 he came to America, where his pictures were exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, and he was warmly received by the Polish Jews in New York.

On 4 August 1967 passed away from cancer in Paris.

  • Sh.L. Schneiderman -- Henryk Berlewi, the World-Famous Yiddish Painter, on his First Visit to America, "Daily Morning Journal," N.Y., 7 March 1965.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5138.

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