Meet The Presses: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

Each of the namesakes for our presses remind us that diligence and knowledge are the “metal” and force for change. These women have broadened the very definition of femininity. We look to them to help reinforce traditional and modern archetypes that should be available to everyone regardless of their gender.

In this blog series, we'll be sharing more information about each woman and the press that is named after them. Stay tuned for more! 




Friedl Dicker-Brandeis 

About the namesake:

Friedl Dicker was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1898 and is largely considered the originator of art therapy. At the sensitive age of four, Dicker’s mother died, greatly affecting her outlook on life. As an adult she aimed to compensate for this loss through a maternal relationship with her students.

At 21 years old, Dicker became both a student and teacher at the first Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. The Bauhaus philosophy was called Gesamtkunstwerk, or the total work of art, in which all techniques and practices would coexist and commingle. At the school, Dicker learned textile design, bookmaking, typography and printmaking. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius commended Dicker for the “multifaceted nature of her gifts and her unbelievable energy.” The style that emerged from the Bauhaus is one of the most influential in modern art and design.

Dicker garnered much renown as an independent designer, founding an atelier in Vienna with other artists she had met at the Bauhaus. Together they won several design awards. Dicker was also very politically active during this time and was arrested and imprisoned for Communist activities in 1934. After being freed, she moved to Czechoslovakia, which was at the time a democratic stronghold.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Zena u stolu, [Woman at the table], date unknown, Courtesy Jewish Museum, PragueThere she married and began to use the hyphenated last name, Dicker-Brandeis. She started painting, taught art to children of German emigres and worked as a textile designer, again winning awards for her work. Her successes, however, could not shield her from the Nazi threat, and she and her husband were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942.

Dicker-Brandeis taught drawing to the children who had also been relegated to Theresienstadt. She modified the Bauhaus system of developing emotional focus in order to help them counteract the chaos of their surroundings. One of her students there, Erna Furman, wrote to a friend, “Friedl’s teaching, the times spent drawing with her, are among the fondest memories of my life. Terezin made it more poignant, but it would have been the same anywhere in the world.”

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Dáma v automobilu / Imaginární autoportrét [Lady in a car / Imaginary self-portrait], c. 1940, pastel sur papier, 43.5 x 56 cm, 22 x 17 1/8 in., Courtesy Jewish Museum, PragueDicker-Brandeis was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, but before being taken, she gave two suitcases with almost 5,000 drawings done by herself and her pupils to the director of a nearby girls home.

Although she was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the drawings are in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague, and they’ve been widely exhibited as a symbol of hope in dark times. 

About the machine: Friedl is a Challenge Diamond Power Paper Cutter 30.5. She was manufactured in 1947 and weighs about 2,100 lbs.



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