Painter/Book Illustrators Exhibit in Library

Work of Busoni, Scharl and Steiner-Prag

Madison, NJ – January 31, 2005 - To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation and to celebrate the survivors of Nazi Europe, The Library on the College at Florham Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, is exhibiting the work of three studio artist/book illustrators, Rafaello Busini, Josef Scharl and Hugo Steiner-Prag. These three book illustrators attempted to revive their careers in exile from Germany. and, in so doing, contributed to the broader culture of the United States, their host country.

Berlin born Rafaello Busoni, an artist, illustrator and author, was the son of the renowned musician Ferruccio Busoni. He left school at the age of 16 to devote himself to painting and became well known in Europe as a painter and illustrator. With Hitler’s rise, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1939 and settled in New York, where he illustrated and wrote books for many publishers.

Busoni was awarded a $2,400 prize for his pastel drawings designed to illustrate Stendhal’s historical novel, “The Red and the Black,” in the third Limited Editions Club Competition in Book Illustration in 1945. He wrote and illustrated a biography of Cervantes for teen readers, published in 1959 by Prentice-Hall, and illustrated a number of books for children and youth.

Josef Scharl was born in Munich in 1896 and died in New York in 1954. He worked as a painter and decorator in Munich and did restoration work in churches and castles. As a painter, Scharl had a substantial following in Germany. In1929 the City of Nuremberg purchased his painting of Albert Einstein (who was a longtime personal friend of the artist) even though by that time Scharl’s anti-Fascist stance put him increasingly in conflict with the National Socialist party.

Although exhibitions of his work were mounted in the early ‘30s in Munich, Berlin and Hanover, by 1935 he was denounced by the Nazis as a “degenerate artist.” In 1938 he left Hitler’s Germany to settle in New York where he continued to paint and became active as a book illustrator.

Hugo Steiner-Prag, painter, graphic artist, book illustrator, and stage designer, was born in Prague (then Czechoslovakia) – the significance of which he expressed in the suffix he added to his name – and died in New York in 1945. “Of the three illustrators exhibited here, Steiner-Prag was by far the best known on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Eleanor Friedl, librarian/curator. This legendary professor of the book arts left Germany in response to the growing anti-Semitism and returned to Prague, where he established a fine press and teaching center for the book arts, the Officina Pragensis. When Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Steiner-Prag fled to Stockholm.

During his brief time in Stockholm, leading figures in the book arts in the United States made a concerted effort to bring him to New York City. Among the institutions that sponsored him in various ways were the Morgan Library, Columbia University, and New York University. “Unfortunately,” says Friedl, “Steiner-Prag was too ill by the time he reached New York to do much more than accept a few book jacket design commissions and produce a few minor works.”

The exhibition is on view in The Library, College at Florham, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, from February 1 - March 31, 2005, during library hours; telephone 973.443.8515. There is no admission charge.

College at Florham Library

Lillian S. Lukac

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