The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

Art, identity, migration: a century of Ben Uri

    Detail: West Indian Waitresses by Eva Frankfurt-her, from the Ben Uri collection

    West Indian Waitresses by Eva Frankfurt-her, from the Ben Uri collection

    Published: 2 July, 2015
    by JOHN GULLIVER

    DAVID Glasser, a businessman, who has put the Ben Uri collection of Jewish art on the map more than anyone else in recent years, made an impassioned appeal last night (Wednesday) to all ethnic groups to “socially integrate”. He was speaking at the opening of an astonishing exhibition at Somerset House celebrating the Ben Uri gallery’s centenary.

    He said museums would not live up to their potential if they only encouraged people to see their art. Ben Uri had  covered Jewish art since poor Jewish immigrants to London set up an art society in Whitechapel on July 1, 1915. He urged everyone – whatever their status in society or their ethnicity – to join the “journey” the Swiss Cottage-based Ben Uri was making. It was summed up in the words: Art, Identity, Migration.

    The exhibition, entitled Out of Chaos, displays great works – some not seen before – of artists, many Polish and Russian Jews, who migrated to London at the start of the last century. There are old favourites, Mark Gertler, Jacob Epstein, George Grosz – including Gertler’s famous twist on the slaughter of the First World War, the Merry-go-round – and some new ones, including a haunting work by Eva Frankfurther donated by her sister Bearte Planskoy, who lives in Highgate.

    Out Of Chaos; Ben Uri: 100 Years in London runs until December 13 in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, King’s College London, Strand, WC2R 2LS. Free entry.

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