Alfred Aberdam

1894 1963
(Ukraine) 1894 /   (France) 1963

Alfred Aberdam grew up in a wealthy family in Lvov, which was then located in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a cultured man. After graduating high school, he organized several conferences in his hometown on Italian and Flemish masters and on the first Jewish painters, including Josef Israels (1824-1911).

In 1913, Aberdam chose practice over theory and left for Munich where he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. When World War I broke out, he had to stop studying; he was mobilized to serve in the eastern front in the Austrian army. He was wounded in the beginning of the war and was captured by Russians before being interned in Irkutsk, Siberia.

In 1917, Aberdam was appointed People’s Commissar of the Department of Fine Arts by the local soviet, which assigned him the task of reorganizing artistic teaching. A year later, in Moscow, he befriended the poet Vladimir Mayakovski.

After being in Leningrad and Vienna, Aberdam returned to Lvov. Between 1920 and 1922, he studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Krakow where Josef Pankiewicz was teaching and he obtained the painting first prize in 1922.

In 1923, while he was staying in Berlin, he met Menkes and Weingart in sculptor Alexander Archipenko’s studio. In 1924, he settled in Paris in the Montparnasse area. In the end of 1925, Jan Sliwinski held an exhibition in his gallery Au Sacre du Printemps, at 5 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris. His work was exhibited alongside paintings by his Galician friends Léon Weissberg, Sigmund Menkès and Joachim Weingart. The Group of Four was born.

Until 1937, thanks to his friend Marcel Slodki, Aberdam enjoyed orders from Swiss collectors.

Under German occupation, he found refuge in Paris at pianist Anna Radlinska’s.

In 1944, he participated in the creation of the Jewish Artists Society in Paris, whose president was sculptor Léon Indenbaum. Aberdam became secretary of this association and Marc Sterling and Zygmund Schreter were its treasurers. Their goal was to create a Jewish museum in Paris and a periodical dedicated to Jewish culture. This association organized twenty meetings, the first of which took place on 15 September 1944.

Following the war, Alfred Averdam returned to his place in Paris, visited the South of France, Switzerland and later Israel, where several exhibitions were dedicated to his art.