Michel Fingesten

~ 1884 – 1943

Michel Fingesten was a Czech-Austrian painter and graphic artist of Jewish descent. He was one of the most original and prolific graphic artists and bookplates designers of the twentieth century.
According to the Italian journalist and critic Giampiero Mughini, "Fingesten is to the history of the ex libris as Pablo Picasso is to that of painting"

In 1900, at the age of 16, he left to study at the Art Academy in Vienna, where Oskar Kokoschka was studying at the same time, but left after only two years. From 1902 to 1906 he undertook a trip around the world, travelling to America,—where he spent four years and witnessed the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco,—and thence to China and Australia.[1]

In 1907 he returned to Europe, arriving in Palermo. From Palermo he crossed the entire Italian peninsula and travelled to Germany via Trieste. Fingesten then stayed temporarily in Munich, where he undertook studies in Franz von Stuck's studio. During this time he was mainly concerned with small-format graphics and drawing caricatures. He finally settled in Berlin in 1913, and there concentrated on mastering the technique of etching.

In 1935 he returned to Italy to visit his family in Trieste. Because of the increasingly intensified racial policy of the National Socialists, he stayed in Italy and settled in Milan. During this time he engraved around 500 bookplates or ex-libris, including one in 1936 for Gabriele D'Annunzio. In 1937, Fingesten's works were confiscated as part of the degenerate art campaign in Germany. On 9 October 1940, he was arrested and interned as a foreigner in the camps of Civitella del Tronto and Ferramonti di Tarsia near Cosenza. He was only able to leave the camp after the Allies liberated southern Italy.

After his liberation from the concentration camp, he met the pastor of Bisignano, Don Giuseppe Savaglia, who commissioned him to paint a picture after a santino, a small figurine of a saint. Fingesten completed the painting within a week. This picture is significant not only because it was the painter's last work, but because towards the end of his life he returned to painting, which he had abandoned years earlier in favour of his bookplates.
Fingesten died of an infection following a surgical procedure in Cerisano, Calabria on 8 October 1943, a few days after it was liberated by the British Army.

His art is a mixture of dark eroticism with a bdsm touch. I tried to divide the art so specific subjects can be more easily found.

3 albums/50 Artworks
Latest Update: November 17, 2023 > New page for this artist created (50 artworks)

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Karen Smits

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