David Ludwig Bloch

Woodcut: David Ludwig Bloch
David Ludwig Bloch: Woodcut, Self-portrait while painting, Bloch surrounded by chinese children, Shanghai 1948
Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Kunstsammlung: David Ludwig Bloch, Nr. 5755, Bl. 4 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015

David Ludwig Bloch

Meine Bilder sind meine Sprache.

[My pictures are my language (ed. trans.)]

David Ludwig Bloch

Bornon 25 March 1910 in Floß, Germany
Diedon 16 September 2002 in Barrytown, United States of America
ProfessionPainter, Graphic designer

As a deaf painter, Bloch had an exceptionally keen eye. He made the new world, which he experienced as an emigrant in Shanghai his own by unlocking its imagery. With small-scale wood engravings, he created a monument to the small people he met in the streets of Shanghai.

After completing an apprenticeship as a porcelain painter, Bloch studied at the State Academy for Applied Art in Munich. Immediately after the November pogroms, Bloch, who was of Jewish origin, was arrested and detained in the concentration camp in Dachau for several weeks. This experience was to have a lasting effect on his work. With the help of his brother, who lived in the USA, Bloch was able to leave for Shanghai in 1940. At that time, Shanghai was the only city still accepting refugees.

In Shanghai, Bloch was fascinated by the rickshaw drivers, the street vendors and the beggars. To them he dedicated four graphic sequences, entitled Rickshaw (1941/42), Beggars (1943), Chinese Children (1944) and Yin Yang (1948). With hand-made prints, Block used a graphic mass medium which gave both his pictures and those represented an element of individuality. After travelling to Rome and the accompanying confrontation with images of the crucified Christ, Bloch reconsidered the violation of the Ten Commandments which the Holocaust represented. A visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site then led to work on a series of pieces based on the Holocaust: the acrylic series From A (Adolf Hitler) to Z (Zyklon B).

Further reading:
Hoster, Barbara / Roman, Malek (Hg): David Ludwig Bloch: Holzschnitte / Woodcuts. Shanghai 1940-1949. Eine gemeinsame Veröffentlichung des China-Zentrums und des Instituts Monumenta Serica Sankt Augustin. Nettetal: Steyler 1997
Messmer, Matthias: Jewish Wayfarers in Modern China. Plymouth: Lexington Books 2012
Neugebauer, Rosamunde (d.i. Rosa von der Schulenburg): KZ Dachau – Ghetto Shanghai – heute New York. Zu Lebensweg und Werk des Künstlers David L. Bloch. In: Zwischen Theben und Shanghai. Jüdische Exilanten in China – Chinesische Exilanten in Europa. Almanach zum V. Else-Lasker-Schüler-Forum, hrsg. von Hajo Jahn. Berlin: Oberbaum 1998, p. 135-155
Neugebauer, Rosamunde: Kunst im Exil. David Ludwig Bloch in Shanghai. In: China heute. Informationen über Religion und Christentum im chinesischen Raum. XVI, 1997, Nr. 5 (93), p. 153-160