Carl Rabus(Johann Carl Joseph Rabus)

Carl Rabus, painter, graphic artist
Carl Rabus, Brussels, 1938, photographed by Erna Adler
Carl Rabus Nachlass, Murnau, © Maurice Adler

Carl Rabus(Johann Carl Joseph Rabus)

Ein mitreißender Aquarellist mit Maß. Lasst uns sein petrolfarbenes Rosa, sein Vitriolgrün, sein herbes Grau loben. Unsere Fischerflotte hat für ihn keine Geheimnisse. Seine Bauten, seine vom Salz des Meeres zerfressenen Schiffsrümpfe, seine Masten, seine von den Winden der Weite geblähten Segel ergreifen die Getreuen der unendlichen Meere. Man sieht Carl Rabus, den jenseits der Norm Schaffenden, als einen der Großen. 

[A captivating yet subtle watercolourist. Praise be his petrol-coloured pink, his vitriol green, his bitter grey. Our fishing fleet holds no secrets for him. His buildings, his hulls eroded by the sea salt, his masts, his sails billowing in the wind stir the faithful of the vast sea. Carl Rabus is a unique creator, one of the greats. (ed. trans.)]

The painter James Ensor on the work of Carl Rabus, August 1938

Bornon 30 May 1898 in Kempten, Germany
Diedon 28 July 1983 in Murnau am Staffelsee, Germany
ExileBelgium, Austria
RemigrationFederal Republic of Germany
ProfessionGraphic designer, Painter

Carl Rabus first made a name for himself with graphic art in the 1920s: lino- and woodcuts and illustrations influenced by expressionism. Later came watercolours and oil paintings of landscapes, cities and people. He presented his work in well-known galleries such as Herwarth Walden's "Der Sturm".

From 1933 he became the object of considerable hostility because of his left-wing leanings. His sociocritical views led him to emigrate as early as 1934. He went to Vienna and earned his living from portrait orders. He also exhibited in galleries and became involved in the left-wing literary magazine Der Plan. He was spied on by the Gestapo due to his relationship with the Jewish photographer Erna Adler and his contacts to anti-fascist circles. When the political situation in Austria threatened to change, Rabus emigrated to Belgium in February 1938 where Erna Adler was already waiting for him.

Belgium became his new home, where Rabus maintained contact with James Ensor, Felix Nussbaum and the Belgian resistance. When the Germans invaded in 1940 he was interned as a "potentially hostile foreigner" in the Saint-Cyprien camp in southern France. After his release he lived under observation by the Gestapo in Brussels and was arrested again in 1942 for "racial defilement". After the war, he stayed in Belgium and continued to work internationally as an artist. In 1974 he returned out of a sense of longing and affinity to his native Bavaria. 

Further reading:
Rolf Jessewitsch/Gerhard Schneider (Hg.), Entdeckte Moderne, Werke aus der Sammlung Gerhard Schneider, Bönen/ Westfalen 2008.
Stéphanie Misme/Joёlle Ribas-Hebenstreit (Hg.), Carl Rabus, Spuren der Vergangenheit, Saint-Cyprien 2011.