Michener Art Museum

Quick Links

Past Exhibitions

Lilli Gettinger: Memory Transformed

April 12 – August 3, 2008

Sponsored by Mary Lou and Andrew Abruzzese of The Pineville Tavern

Lilli Gettinger (1920-1999) fled Nazi Germany in 1938, eventually settling in the Princeton region. Her polychrome relief sculptures and pastel drawings, which reference the terrors of the concentration camps, as well as her own harrowing escape from Germany, are intermingled with allusions to literature, music and the Bible. Gettinger's work is a reflection of our common humanity: by choosing the positive forces of love and beauty to transform our own lives and memories, we can triumph over the forces of destruction.

Born in Berlin in 1920 to Polish Jewish parents, Gettinger was forced to leave her home when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. After she joined a militant Zionist group as a teenager, Gettinger's parents sent her to boarding school in Florence, Italy in 1936. She always harbored a love for art as a child and while in Florence her artistic talents thrived. Here she also met her first husband, a German Jew, in 1938. The couple married in Switzerland and then fled to Norway after anti-Jewish laws were passed. The two Jewish refugees traveled throughout Europe and finally sought refuge in Haiti before moving to New York City.

Once settled in the United States, Gettinger studied under famed cubist sculptor Alexander Archipenko. She would fill several drawing pads with sketches, but cast only a few sculptures while with him. From 1943-1948 Gettinger continued her education in drawing, stone carving, wood carving and casting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. She worked under sculptor Heinz Warnecke and had her first solo exhibition in 1952.

Over the years, Gettinger also had solo exhibitions at the Robert Horn Gallery in New York City, and group exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland; The Watkins Gallery at American University, Washington, D.C.; Trenton City Museum, Trenton, New Jersey; and her last exhibit, held at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, in Summit, New Jersey.

Image: Lilli Gettinger (1920-1999), Ship of Fools, 1969, Polychrome bas relief, H. 33 x W. 55 x D. 5 inches, Collection of the deceased artist's husband, Dr. Karl A. Hochschwender.

» View the full exhibition schedule

In This Section