Georgia Museum of Art to Show Works of Cultural Pioneer Alice Fischer

  • ATHENS, Georgia
  • /
  • January 07, 2015

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Alice Fischer (American, b. Vienna, 1907–2004), Eight buttons, ca. 1943–63. Hand-painted, mold-poured and fired porcelain in various colored and textured glazes, 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/4 inches each. Private collection.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present “The Life and Work of Alice Fischer, Cultural Pioneer” Jan. 10 to March 8, 2015. The exhibition will feature selections of ceramic jewelry and works on paper by the former University of Georgia professor. 

Born in Vienna to a Jewish family, Alice Fischer (1907–2004) was an artist and designer who immigrated to the United States by way of France and Morocco to escape the Nazi regime. Fischer arrived in New York in 1941 and found work in a French silk house, but she soon left her job and began experimenting with ceramics. Her experiments led to the design and handmade production of unique ceramic buttons and jewelry, which she sold throughout the United States. Fischer’s jewelry production diminished when she enrolled in Columbia University’s doctoral program in art history and ceased completely in 1963 when she began teaching.

This exhibition serves as an introduction to Fischer’s jewelry and other works of art (etchings, watercolors and drawings), and will include Fischer’s “History of Fashion” necklace, a particularly intricate work that highlights her skills as a jewelry maker and painter. Other works on view will include Fischer’s early watercolors of southern France alongside some of her later drawings and etchings. The exhibition will address potential influences on Fischer’s work—including the works of Jewish modernist Marc Chagall and Fischer’s interest in early Christian art—as well as issues of identity. 

Expulsion (from Germany and Austria, and finally from France) and the trials of immigration marked her life. When her ship was stopped at Casablanca during her flight from the Nazi regime, Fischer was interned at camp Oued Zem for nearly three months. Uncertain of her fate, it was here that Fischer expressed her willingness to be a “cultural pioneer” in northern Africa if she was unable to leave. After arriving in the United States, she continued to journey—from Manhattan to Woodstock, from Virginia to Athens, Ga., where Lamar Dodd hired her to teach art history at the University of Georgia, and finally to North Carolina, where she worked in collage, printmaking and drawing until her death. According to Mary Koon, independent curator, “Fischer’s work deserves a larger audience, and the Georgia Museum of Art is honored to have the opportunity to display this tribute to her life and career, especially given the decade she spent teaching here at the Lamar Dodd School of Art.” 

Associated events include a Tour at Two on Jan. 28 at 2 p.m., a Make It an Evening gallery tour on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m., and a gallery talk on March 5 at 5:30 p.m., all with curator Mary Koon. The museum will also host an Alice Fischer inspired family day on Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. until noon. 

For more information, including hours, see or call 706.542.4662.

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