LION FEUCHTWANGER has his lighter moments too in “The Oppermanns,” his novel describing the impact of the Nazi terror on a cultivated German Jewish family group and reviewed else-where in this issue. In the mouth of one Ellen Rosendorff, a young woman of Semitic features who travelled on the upper reaches of German Society and was even known to have had an affair with the Crown Prince, Feuchtwanger puts these words, supposed to have been uttered by the young lady on the occasion when the Crown Prince almost crashed with her in his car: “You must drive carefully, monsieur. Just think of us two lying underneath the smashed car in a single unrecognizable mass. One can’t conceive Jewish bones in the mausoleum in Potsdam, and those of a Hohenzollern in the Jewish cemetery at Weissensee.”
In another passage, a passage of a more serious nature, the one wherein Berthold Oppermann asks his wise uncle, Jaques Lavendel, whether he should or should not retract an interrupted and wholly misunderstood remark he had made about Arminius, the Teuton tribesman who had repelled the Romans, Uncle Lavendel answers in this wise: “When the Romans were in Judaea, they exacted very high tribute from the Jews. They asked the Talmudic Rabbis: ‘Should a man give a correct valuation of his goods or not?’ The Rabbis answered: ‘Woe to him that doth and woe to him that doth not’ Whatever you do, my lad, he’ll try to put the rope round your neck.”
I wonder how many, if any, of my readers know the identity of the Nazi of whom Herr Feuchtwanger gives us the clue in the following words: “Next to the Leader, the most popular man in Germany had been that man whose voice the people liked to hear most over the radio; he was now atoning for his rivalry with the Leader in a concentration camp.” Could this be one of the Strasser brothers?
ON MATTERS OF ART
I crave my readers’ indulgence for returning to the matter of art, a most satisfying matter and, incidentally, a most self-enlightening and inspiring discipline. To begin with, I shall be more or less statistical, giving the names of the Jewish artists whose works are shown in the First Municipal Arts Exhibition, still current at Rockefeller Centre. This list may be taken as complete and authentic, displacing the list of Jewish artist which I published on the occasion of my first comment on the show, since that first list was based on conjecture.
The following list is provided through the courtesy of Miss Alice Woodard, of the publicity staff of the First Municipal Art Exhibition. The names follow, but not in alphabetical order. N. A. after a name indicates National Academy; A. N. A. stands for Associate in the National Academy. Here goes:
Hilaire Hiler, Stefan Hirsch, Morris Kantor, Benard Karfoil, Leon Kroll, A. Z. Kruse, Sidney Laufman, A. F. Levinson, Paul Moschcowitz A.N.A., Louis Ritman, Charles Rosen, A.N.A., Louis C. Rosenberg, A.N.A., Doris Rosenthal, Anatol Shulkin, Maurice Sterne, Dorothy Eisner, Jo Davison, Bernar Gussow, Florine Stettheimer, Max Weber, Marguerite Zorach, William Zorach, William Auerback-Levy, A.N.A., Saul Baizerman, Maurice Becker, Ben Benn, Ahron Ben-Shumel, Theresa Bernstein, Edward Biberman, Jerome Blum, Peter Blume, Paul Burlin, A. Mark Datz, Arnold Friedman, Chaim Gross
At the Empire Galleries, in the Bristish Building of Rockefeller Centre, just a stone’s throw from the First Municipal Art Exhibition, Irwin D. Hoffman is showing a large roomful of paintings and etchings of Mexico. The oils are as sun-drenched as the etchings are cloud-shadowed. My own favorite among the oils is Simplicities, which depicts a little Mexican sloe-eyed girl sitting in a dream like trance on her haunches. Romeo and Juliet shows Mr. Hoffman at his anecdotal humorous best, for it portrays two donkeys in a mildly affectionate encounter. Another picture in the same spirit shows the clown at a Mexican circus frightening the youngest in the front bench of youngsters, while the back row of men laughs at their terror. Perhaps you had better look at the painting while they continue to hang, for another week, on the walls of the Empire Galleries so that you may decide for yourself what veracity there is in these final paragraphs from the “program note” in the catalogue, by Jose Miguel Bejarano;
“In Hoffman concur the painter, the journalist, the sociologist, and last but not least, the poet. Temporarily transplanted into Mexican land, he was nourished with the juices of its soil and he produced the Mexican blossoms. His heart took profound roots in the history, tradition and idosyncracy of the Mexican people. Promptly and whole-heartedly he identified himself with them, Mexico keeps no secret from him.
“The rest was simple: by means of his brush, he spoke our own language and love is detected in the forceful vibration of his works.”