Margarete Kubicka

(1891 – 1984)

Exhibition: 3 December 2021 – 21 January 2022

Margarete Kubicka – artist and resistance fighter – initially trained to become an art teacher and sport instructor at the Königliche Kunstschule zu Berlin in protest against the bourgeois norms of her parents’ home and the desire for a self-determined life and a financially secure profession. There she met her later husband, the German-Polish painter, writer and poet Stanislaw Kubicki. The artist couple worked at a crucial time of artistic and social change and were among those artists who strongly influenced the development of modern art in the 1920s and 1930s in both Germany and Poland.

  • Life and work

    In retrospect, Margarete Kubicka was described by her son Karol Kubicki (1926-2019) as the head of the family. Through her work as a teacher, she financially provided for the family and enabled her husband, even before their marriage, to pursue his artistic creativity. In the little spare time she had she painted. Already artistically and politically active at an early age, she and Stanislaw were founding members of the polish Expressionist group BUNT (engl. revolt) in 1918, established contact with the literary-political magazine AKTION, which subsequently dedicated a special issue to the group, and strongly advocated their own pacifist and left-wing communist ideas. The couple left their artistic stamp in the 1920s by organizing the Internationale Ausstellung revolutionärer Künstler, founding the anarchist-oriented group Kommune together with Franz W. Seiwert, Heinrich Hoerle, Jankel Adler and Otto Freundlich and by being members of the Gruppe progressiver Künstler. As another aesthetic statement the family moved to the horseshoe settlement in Britz (“Hufeisensiedlung“) planned by the architect Bruno Taut.

    Unfortunately, during the Nazi era, Kubicka had little time for artistic work. The fascist regime of the National Socialists forced her punitive transfer to Tempelhof in 1933 and Stanislaw Kubicki’s flight to Poland in 1934. Despite repeated searches of the house and partial destruction of artworks by the SA, Kubicka supported anti-fascist organizations, provided food for Polish forced labourers and friends staying illegally in Berlin, helped members of resistance movements to escape from Germany and tried to protect the art of her husband and artist friends in her house by all means. Stanislaw Kubicki, after divorcing Kubicka in 1937 out of fear of political persecution, was murdered by the Gestapo in Warsaw in 1942.

    After the end of the Nazi regime Margarete Kubicka became the first school counselor in Berlin-Neukölln and began a new artistic career by finding new forms – allegorical and mythological retrospectives that were often marked by the crisis of humanity she had experienced. Kubicka’s watercolours with their captivating transparency seem mostly abstract, but then become more identifiable thanks to designations of the artist in form of titles and commentaries. The artist evokes powerful crystalline forms and planes with a colorful hue to transform her realistic settings into cubistic fragmentation. Through the thematically related works in sequence, she created a type of narrative in pictures approaching the character of literature, in which the temporal takes on special significance and in which anthroposophical, Christian and pantheistic elements can be found.

  • Biography

    1891 – Born as Margarete Schuster in Berlin on 20 June

    1911-1913 – Attends the teacher training seminar at the Königliche Kunstschule zu Berlin with the aim of becoming a drawing teacher

    1916 – Marriage to the german-polish artist Stanislaw Kubicki on 22 December

    Around 1914-1919 – Member of the Spartakusbund for a short time

    1918 – Participates in an exhibition of the BUNT group in Posen, of which she is a founding member, and in the group’s exhibition in Berlin organised by the magazine AKTION, showing five oil paintings, three watercolours and two woodcuts

    1919 – Birth of daughter Janina. Acquaintances with Otto Dix, Conrad Felixmüller, George Grosz and Johannes Baader

    1920s – New job as art teacher at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Realgymnasium in Neukölln

    1922 – Protests recorded in two manifestos against the “sloppy opportunism” of the all-too-established artists’ groups on the occasion of the 1. internationale Kunstausstellung and the Kongress der Union internationaler fortschrittlicher Künstler associated with it. Organisation of the exhibition Internationale Ausstellung revolutionärer Künstler. Founding of the group Kommune with Stanislaw Kubicki, Franz W. Seiwert, Heinrich Hoerle, Jankel Adler and Otto Freundlich

    1923 – Member of the Gruppe progressiver Künstler

    1926 – Birth of son Stanislaw Karol

    1927 – Family moves to the Hufeisensiedlung, Britz

    1930 – Participation in the collective exhibition of the Kölner Progressive in Chicago

    1933 – Reprimand and punitive transfer to Tempelhof by the fascist authorities

    1934 – Husband Stanislaw Kubicki flees to Poland and assists in the escape of Zenzl Mühsam from Germany

    1937 – Divorce from Stanislaw Kubicki for fear of political persecution

    1942 – Murder of Stanislaw Kubicki by the Gestapo in Warsaw

    ca. 1945-1956 – teaching at the Luise-Henriette-Oberschule in Tempelhof

    1984 – died on 18 July in Berlin