The Center for Jewish History & the Leo Baeck Institute are Proud to Present Out of the Box - David Ludwig Bloch: A German Jewish Artist in Shanghai

New York, NY (July 15, 2021)

At the Center for Jewish History, there are tens of thousands of boxes in our partners’ archival collections --boxes filled with photographs, journals, letters, and documents. We take these treasures Out of the Box for you and bring their stories to life!

In this program, we will take you on the remarkable journey of German Jewish artist David Ludwig Bloch (1910-2002) by exploring the archival and art collections of the Leo Baeck Institute. Bloch was a deaf Jewish artist from Bavaria who found refuge in Shanghai following his release from the Dachau concentration camp in 1940.There he joined a population of 20,000 other German and Austrian Jewish refugees who found themselves living in relative safety in a place they had only imagined. The program will stream live on Monday, July 12th at 4:00 pm.

Michael Simonson, archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute, will be joined by Nancy Berliner, Wu Tung Senior Curator of Chinese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, who will provide an analysis of the work in the context of Chinese art history, including Chinese art contemporary to Bloch's time in Shanghai.

“David Ludwig Bloch's use of woodblock printing, a traditional medium for the Chinese middle class and working poor, highlights the cross-cultural transference he had with the traditions and people of China, and his attachment to the everyday life and people of Shanghai, including its rickshaw drivers, beggars, and street vendors,” said Simonson.

Bloch, a painter, illustrator, and lithographer, captured the daily life of Shanghai in the 1940s, a thriving metropolis of rich and poor, city natives, European exiles, and a vast population of Chinese refugees fleeing the Japanese invasion and chronic civil war. Through Bloch’s beautiful watercolors and woodcuts, we meet the everyday people of Shanghai—the rickshaw drivers, small business owners, the homeless, and the street beggars —as well as an artist who made a new life for himself in China and then, finally, in the United States in New York.