Jacob Kramer and Aspects of Expressionism

‘ ... to create a purely spiritual form’

Jacob Kramer (1892 - 1962), a key figure in Leeds Art Gallery's Collection, is often overlooked in accounts of the development of modern art in Britain in the first half of the 20th century, in part because the dominant narrative often focuses on abstraction and surrealism.

In 1918 Kramer outlined his intentions for his art in a letter to his close friend and fellow Leeds Art Club member Herbert Read. The artist explained that when he looked at an object he saw both its physical appearance and its spiritual manifestation. His greatest struggle, he claimed, was to escape the physical appearance and paint only the spiritual form.

This display, which includes some new acquisitions, focuses on Kramer's early attempts to find his own voice and style. His work is seen in the context of other works in the Leeds Collection by artists whose output and influence is also largely unsung.

Some of these artists, like Kramer, were émigrés who had arrived in Britain from other parts of Europe, fleeing strife, oppression and turmoil. Others were British or Irish artists who offered alternative forms of expression that didn’t always sit easily alongside the formalist, abstracted language of modern painting that was developing in the metropolitan centres.

By privileging emotional and spiritual subjects and modes of expression, the work of these artists pursues singular courses with strong voices, calling for new forms of understanding and expression.

Photograph of the work of art: The Day of Atonement

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

The Day of Atonement
1919
Oil on canvas
Presented by the Jewish Community of Leeds, 1919
LEEAG.1920.0276

Photograph of the work of art: The Little Bouquet

Georg Sauter (1866-1937)

The Little Bouquet
c.1906-1908
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.1925.0136.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Weisshorn

Georg Sauter (1866-1937)

The Weisshorn
1913
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.1925.0141.SW

Photograph of the work of art: Bust of Jacob Kramer (1882-1962)

Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Bust of Jacob Kramer (1882-1962)
1921
Bronze
Purchased by the Leeds Art Fund, 1931
LEEAG.1931.0019.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: A Russian Village

Charles Murray (1894-1954)

A Russian Village
1928
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1933
LEEAG.1933.0013.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Lilies

Matthew Smith (1879-1959)

Lilies
c. 1913-1914
Oil on canvas
Purchased through the Corporation Fund, 1939
LEEAG.1939.0006

Photograph of the work of art: The Little Seamstress

Matthew Smith (1879-1959)

The Little Seamstress
c. 1917
Oil on canvas
Purchased through the Corporation Fund, 1940
LEEAG.1940.0019

Photograph of the work of art: The Pond

Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

The Pond
1916
Oil on canvas
Purchased from the Leicester Galleries, 1941
LEEAG.1941.0004

Photograph of the work of art: September

Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

September
1936
Oil on board
Presented by Mr & Mrs F W Vickerman in memory of their son Major Brian Vickerman RCS, 1948
LEEAG.1948.0021.0001

Photograph of the work of art: On the Move

Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

On the Move
1950
Oil on canvas
Purchased by the Leeds Art Fund, 1952
LEEAG.1952.0001.0001.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: Off the Irish Coast

Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

Off the Irish Coast
date unknown
Oil on wood
Presented by Agnes & Norman Lupton, 1953
LEEAG.1953.0013.0279

Photograph of the work of art: The Mystery Man

Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

The Mystery Man
1942
Oil on canvas
Presented by Agnes & Norman Lupton, 1953
LEEAG.1953.0013.0280

Photograph of the work of art: The Red House, Hampstead

Charles Murray (1894-1954)

The Red House, Hampstead
1953
Oil on wood
Presented by Arthur Haigh, 1976
LEEAG.1976.0045.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Flowers

David Bomberg (1890-1957)

Flowers
1943
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Leslie Cohen, 2001
LEEAG.2001.0034

Photograph of the work of art: Flenite Relief

Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Flenite Relief
1913
Serpentine stone
Purchased with the aid of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Leeds Art Collections Fund, 2008
LEEAG.2007.0032

Photograph of the work of art: Untitled

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

Untitled
c.1923-1928
Oil paint on untreated linen
Purchased with the aid of grants from the Leeds Art Fund and Deborah Davies, 2014
LEEAG.2014.0066

Photograph of the work of art: Mother and Child

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

Mother and Child
c. 1915
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed to the Leeds Art Fund by Dr William Whittaker FRCS and Elizabeth Mary Whittaker OBE, JP, 2014
LEEAG.2014.0256.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: Jacob Kramer

John Flanagan (1895-1964)

Jacob Kramer
date unknown
Oil on canvas

LEEAG.2017.0011

Photograph of the work of art: Kurfürstendamm

Martin Bloch (1883-1954)

Kurfürstendamm
1922-33
Oil on canvas
Presented by a body of subscribers, 1935
LEEAG.PA.1935.0015

Photograph of the work of art: Thistles and Crocus

Martin Bloch (1883-1954)

Thistles and Crocus
1933
Oil on canvas
Presented by a body of subscribers, 1935
LEEAG.PA.1936.0023

Photograph of the work of art: Tobias

Hans Feibusch (1898-1998)

Tobias
1936
Oil on canvas
Presented by Hazel King-Farlow, 1938
LEEAG.PA.1938.0007

Photograph of the work of art: Praxitella

Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)

Praxitella
c. 1921
Oil on canvas
Presented by Edward Wadsworth through the Contemporary Art Society, 1945
LEEAG.PA.1945.0015.0001

Photograph of the work of art: The Black Shawl

Grace Henry (1868-1953)

The Black Shawl
1912-18
Oil on canvas
Presented by Miss Middleton, 1950
LEEAG.PA.1950.0039

Photograph of the work of art: Maples Demolition, Euston Road

Frank Auerbach (b.1931)

Maples Demolition, Euston Road
1960
Oil on board
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1965
LEEAG.PA.1965.0002

Photograph of the work of art: Ruhala

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

Ruhala
1917
Oil on canvas
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund and a bequest through the Leeds Art Fund from Mr Kenneth Lister Appleby, 1999
LEEAG.PA.1999.0038

Photograph of the work of art: The Talmudists

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

The Talmudists
c.1919
Oil on canvas
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and an anonymous donation via the Leeds Art Fund, 1999
LEEAG.PA.1999.0039

Photograph of the work of art: Rite of Spring

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

Rite of Spring
1920
Oil on canvas
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the Leeds Art Fund, 1999
LEEAG.PA.1999.0043

Photograph of the work of art: Odalisque (Man and Woman)

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)

Odalisque (Man and Woman)
c.1912-1913
Alabaster
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the Board of Education, 1935

Photograph of the work of art: Construction in Space: Soaring

Naum Gabo (1880-1977)

Construction in Space: Soaring
1930
Brass, plexiglass and wood
Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to Leeds City Council for display at Leeds City Art Gallery, 1989
LEEAG.SC.1989.0022

Franta Belsky (1921-2000)

The Lesson
1955
Painted plaster
Purchased through the Henry Moore Institute Archive Fund, 2001