Artworks of former Jewish artist donated to Shanghai

The family of David Bloch (1910-2002), a deaf-mute Jewish painter and former refugee in Shanghai during the World War II, presented his works to Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Dean Bloch (right), the son of David Bloch, the German artist who created hundreds of paintings and woodcuts about the life and customs in Shanghai during 1930s and 40s, introduces part of his father's works to visitors at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum on Friday.

The family of David Bloch (1910-2002), a deaf-mute Jewish painter and former refugee in Shanghai during the World War II, presented a batch of his works to the city on Friday.

Dean Bloch, the son of the German artist who created hundreds of paintings and woodcuts about the life and customs in Shanghai during 1930s and 40s, presented 32 of his father's works to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum for exhibition.

The artworks, including 21 paintings, eight woodcuts and three painting tools of David Bloch, are about the hard life of toiling masses in Shanghai and his miserable experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. He spent nine years in the city around 1940s during the war and married a Chinese woman.

"The artworks are merely little part of David Bloch's works, and the museum will work together with Bloch's family for a more complete exhibition about his artworks," said Chen Jian, curator of the museum. Hundreds of other works of Bloch have been collected by his family and will be presented to Shanghai, which was deemed as the second hometown of Bloch, according his family.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Dean Bloch (right), the son of David Bloch, poses with some of his father's works and painting tools with his wife at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum on Friday.

David Bloch was born in 1910 in a Bavarian town Floss. He lost his parents and became deaf after an illness when he was 3 years old. He studied design and woodcut at an art college in Munich.

Bloch was arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp along with a large number of Jews on the evening of November 9, 1938, known as the Crystal Night, when the Nazis smashed a large number of homes and stores belonging to Jews and Jewish synagogues.

He was released later because he was deaf-mute and with the help of his friends. He followed his cousin’s advice and managed to obtain a ship ticket that took him to Shanghai.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A painting tool that David Bloch used to create his woodcuts is presented to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.

The common sign language made it easier for Bloch to make friends with local deaf people who often took him to local families. The experience later became the main source of his artistic creation.

He met a local deaf woman at a party and they got married in 1946. The couple later moved to United States after the end of the war.

Paintings and woodcuts about local rickshaws, a once popular transport of the city, were one of his favorite themes and also his most popular collections.

David Bloch once said that the rickshaw pullers were very kind and tough, and they were the symbols of China, according to his family. In 1997, David published an album including 60 paintings of rickshaws and rickshaw pullers.

Sixteen rickshaw themed paintings are included in the donation today. In one of the paintings, a Chinese woman sends a meal box to her husband, a rickshaw puller. She watches her husband with love and caring, while another rickshaw puller is muttering beside in jealous.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

One of the paintings of David Bloch is presented to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees museum. 

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Another work of David Bloch is presented to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees museum about the miserable experiences in the Nazi concentration camp during the World War II.

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