Leben und Werk

Herbert Fiedler: Bearing Witness
to the Times in Pictures and Words

His was to a certain extent the classic fate of the artist: abject poverty, adverse circumstances, but despite this continually working and polishing away at an extremely individual style of painting, and finally true recognition not coming until the end of his life. Herbert Fiedler was a loner like George Grosz and Max Beckmann. They, howeber, had already made names for themselves in Germany in the Twenties; Fiedler, in contrast, was a late developer, and did not mature properly as an artist until he was in exile (while Grosz scarcely produced anything of significance in the United States). At first, however, there were other things to worry about in the Netherlands. Even later on, there was only limited interest in the art of this German immigrant. It fitted in better with his old rather than his new homeland, the Netherlands, where there was at times little leeway between photorealism and abstraction. By the time representational art was rediscovered in Neo-Expressionism, Fiedler was no longer alive.

Due to the circumstances of his life and the age he lived in, Herbert Fiedler was an extremely interesting witness to an eventful time: in Paris he experienced the heyday of the avant garde there, in Berlin the turmoil and artistic diversity of the Twenties, in the Netherlands the war years and the post-war controversy of abstract versus representational art. His personal experience of these things is reflected in his varied works and unmistakable style of painting. And it is also found in his diaries, which are most interesting documents of the age. Despite war and poverty, artistic isolation and family crises, Fiedler never stopped painting. For him, painting was more than an occupation or means of communication, it was a necessity.

Beatrice von Bormann


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Fiedler in his studio, 1960