Frederic Fiebig’s life is the archetype of what one might call an artist destiny, drama succeeding to legends, glory to oblivion.
Latvia was German when Fiebig was born in Talsen in 1885 from Russian parents. It all begins with a love affair between a teacher and an exceptionally gifted teenage draughtsman. The future Madame Fiebig(1) was twenty years older than him. She admired his gifts and will decide his destiny. First he will study painting in St Petersbourg(2), then start his career in Paris(3) rather than Munich. Success will come soon after a legendary tour of Italy(4). During this period, wide, thick and sensual(5) strokes feature his style.
His notoriety was not even settled when his German citizenship, in a country waging war against Germany, ruined everything. Being refused entrance, he and his wife decide to disappear for a while in the Landes district(6).
Back in Paris during the twenties, his proud and tortured nature added to misanthropy made relationship with the Art world and galleries difficult. He takes part in various exhibitions. His style has changed, knife-painting now in place of brush strokes, curves getting rare and finally vanishing, composition based on polygons, usually triangles(7). Critics praise, but life is still difficult. The health of his son Eric, who suffers from a heavy genetic disease, always remains a priority, and the family will spend two years running in Ladevèze and Lescar(8) to benefit from the mountains pure air. Back in Paris, Fiebig stays close to little Eric, finding inspiration on the river Seine banks or in Paris streets. As usual at each bad time of his life, his work gathers new and exciting concepts. An unusual observation angle is enough to change the structure of an ordinary urban landscape. As a result, his work stands with masterfully between representation and abstraction(9).
Eric's health worsens. In 1929 the couple decide to leave Paris with it's pollution and settle in Alsace(10). Eric dies in 1932.
The last but one act will be the legend of the "Taennchel Hermit(11)". Fiebig is in the news, spending a winter in a refuge 20° or 30° below centigrade , on top of a mountain in les Vosges. A big success in Alsace, but Paris is far away and does not hear of it. The infernal cycle starts again, a new war, helpless Fiebig has to watch his daughter Raya's internment in a concentration camp. Until his death in Salestat in 1953 he looks forward to getting French citizenship which will never be given.
This is the opportunity to celebrate his daughter Raya Fiebig(12)who, back from Auschwitz, had enough strength left to protect and get out of oblivion her father’s work.
The 20th century failed to immortalise Frederic Fiebig, who refused to bow to the prevailing trends of that era. And yet, his increasingly recognised work is standing the test of time.
All the paintings, except one, shown on this website come from F. Fiebig own collection which he kept in Salestat. This body of work only came out in 1975. Raya Fiebig, with the help of Me Maurice Rheims and close friends, set up an auction sale in Hotel Drouot. Two books were published, followed by several exhibitions in Saint Dié Museum, Parisian galleries, New York… Today all these works have been dispersed between public collections, Strasbourg Museum, Colmar Museum and known or unknown private collections. The very small part, but of great quality, which remained in Raya Fiebig possession, will perhaps come out, hopefully in a Museum, in order to complete existing collections.