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Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)

  • Seven Jewish artists living in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto joined together to form an art association in 1943. The founding members were: David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark.
  • Name:
    Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)
  • Alternative names:


  • Kind of Organisation:
  • Introduction:

    Seven Jewish artists living in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto joined together to form an art association in 1943. The founding members were: David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark.

    Word Count: 38

  • Content:

    In 1943, already declared “stateless” by the Nazi Regime, most Jewish European emigrants were forced into a small, designated area in Hongkou – the so-called Shanghai Ghetto – by the occupying Japanese authorities. Already facing harsh economic conditions, for many this meant the loss of previous income opportunities, as well as of their professional and social networks, as in the case of the commercial graphic artist John Isaac. Housing conditions were cramped, many had no choice but to stay in shelters (Heime), and availability of food and health care deteriorated dramatically. In 1943, seven European artists whose artworks had previously been shown by the German émigré architect Richard Paulick at his company showrooms, founded ARTA in order to promote their work and enhance cultural life in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto. The Alfred Dreifuß Archive at the Akademie der Schönen Künste in Berlin holds a founding note for advertising purposes. The association presented itself as follows:
    „Die im Distrikt lebenden juedischen Kunstmaler haben sich zu eienr Vereinigung zusammengeschlossen. Deren Zweck ist die Pflege und Foerderung der bildenden Kuenste durch Kunstausstellungen, Vortraege, Unterricht und geselliges Beisammensein mit Kunstinteressierten. Um unseren Mitgliedern fuer einen geringen Monatsbeitrag ein Aequivalent zu bieten beschlossen wir Kunstmaler folgendes: Jedes Mitglied hat jaehrlich Anspruch auf eine kostenlose graphische Arbeit. Ausserdem werden anlaesslich unserer Kunstausstellungen ein bis drei Oelbilder kostenlos innerhalb unseres Mitgliederkreises verlost. Ausserdem wird bei besonderen Anlaessen ein Gutschein fuer ein Portrait unter den Mitgliedern verlost werden. Die Wahl des Kuenstlers steht dem Gewinner frei. Bei Kaeufen auf unseren Ausstellungen erhalten Mitglieder unserer Vereinigung 20% Rabatt. Der monatliche Beitrag betraegt $30.--, eine einmalige Einschreibegebuehr den gleichen Betrag. Wir erlauben und darauf hinzuweisen, dass diese Vereinigung hier voellig neuartig ist, dem kulturellen Beduerfnis weiter Kreise entspricht und im Kulturleben unserer Gemeinschaft eine Luecke ausfuellt. Indem wir auch Ihr Interesse am juedischen Kunstleben voraussetzten, gestatten wir uns hoeflichst Sie zum Beitritt in unsere Vereinigung einzuladen. Fuer besondere Auskuenfte steht Ihnen gerne einer der unterzeichneten Kuenstler zur Verfuegung.“

    (English translation:
    "The Jewish painters living in the district have formed an association. Its purpose is the cultivation and promotion of the fine arts through art exhibitions, lectures, classes and social gatherings with art enthusiasts. In order to offer our members an equivalent for a small monthly fee, we art painters decided on the following: Each member is entitled to one free graphic work per year. In addition, on the occasion of our art exhibitions, one to three oil paintings are raffled free of charge within our circle of members. In addition, on special occasions, a voucher for a portrait will be raffled among the members. The choice of the artist is up to the winner. Members of our association receive a 20% discount on purchases at our exhibitions. Monthly dues are $30.00, and a one-time registration fee is the same amount. We would like to point out that this association is completely new, meets the cultural needs of wide circles and fills a gap in the cultural life of our community.”)

    From Hans Jacoby’s diaries we learn that the application for approval of the art association was made at the police headquarters on 13 July 1943, while the first announcements in the local press, such as the Jüdische Nachrichtenblatt (article by Alfred Dreifuß, December 24, 1943) seem to have appeared only in December of the same year. We also learn that one the artists' favourite meeting places was the Cafe Barcelona on Chusan Road. The first ARTA exhibition took place in March 1944, at the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association or Kadoori School at East Yuhuang Road, and was opened by Kubota Tsutomu, head of the Bureau of Stateless Refugees Affairs for the Japanese occupation forces in Shanghai, and Ghoya Kanoh, an executive employee, who made celebratory speeches. Exhibiting artists got a special stamp in their passport that allowed them to cross over the border of the designated area. However, regulations governing permission to stay in any part of the city were subject to monthly changes by the Japanese authorities.
    The second exhibition, in May 1944, was held on the second floor of Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co, a departmental store at 98 Nanking Road. The store building had been built in 1904 and renovated by the Hungarian émigré architect C. H. Gonda in 1930. The formerly British business, that had originated in Calcutta, was taken over by the Japanese in 1941.
    The exhibition was sponsored by the Japanese and probably helped them spread positive publicity regarding their ghetto politics in the already censored press. The participating artists set up a quick sketch service and visitors could have their portraits done free of charge. A similar kind of service was also provided as part of the evening entertainment programme at the Tabarin, a popular emigré ran restaurant and bar on Broadway East, by the artist Fred Fredden Goldberg and shows the ingenuity of the artists in their quest to earn some money.

    Word Count: 806

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., Nanking Road, International Settlement (now 100 Nanjing Dong Lu, Huangpu Qu) Shanghai

  • Signature Image:
    Advertisement, First ARTA Exhibition,Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt, 4 March 1944, vol. 5, no. 9, p. 4. Entrance was free of charge. An entrance ticket authorised the residents of the designated area to leave it in order to get to the exhibition venue at the S.Y.Y.A. School at East Yuhuang Road, which was only a short distance away.
  • Media:
    ARTA, ticket, Hans Jacoby Collection, Box 1, Folder 5 (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    C. H. Gonda, Shanghai Jewish School, drawing, 1931, Seymour Road, Shanghai. Venue of the first ARTA exhibition in 1944.
    C. H. Gonda, Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., drawing, 1930, Nanking Road, Shanghai. Venue of the second ARTA exhibition in 1944.
    Jewish School, photograph, 14 January 1931, Seymour Road, Shanghai.
    Ernst Handl, Self Portrait, drawing, 15 September 1943, Shanghai, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Advertisement, Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., Shanghai Woche, no. 1, 5 April 1939, p. 4.
    W. F. (Wolfgang Fischer) “Das Werden der Emigrantenwirtschaft und ihre Pioniere. Fred Fredden-Goldberg – Ein juedischer Maler.“ Shanghai Woche, no. 13, 4 September 1942, p. 4.
    Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, front, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, double page, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, back, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Ebner, Irene. Jewish Refugees in Shanghai 1933–1947. A Selection of Documents. Archiv jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur. vol. 3, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018.
    Freyeisen, Astrid. Shanghai und die Politik des Dritten Reichs. Königshausen & Neumann 1999.
    Kranzler, David. "Restrictions Against German-Jewish Refugee Immigration to Shanghai in 1939.” Jewish Social Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 1974, pp. 40–60.
    Pan, Guan. A Study of Jewish Refugees in China (1933–1945). Histories, Theories and the Chinese Pattern. Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press/Springer, 2019.

    Word Count: 70

  • Archives and Sources:

    Leo Baeck Institute, New York, David Ludwig Bloch Collection.
    Akademie der Schönen Künste, Berlin, Alfred Dreifuß Archive.

    Word Count: 19

  • Author:
    Mareike Hetschold
  • Date of Founding:
  • Date of Disbandment:
  • Participants (selection):

    David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark

  • Metropolis:
  • Entry in process:
  • Mareike Hetschold. "Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • David Ludwig Bloch

    David Ludwig Bloch is known for his paintings and watercolours revolving around the Holocaust and his exile. With the woodcuts from his time in exile in Shanghai, Bloch created an artistic account of everyday life in the city, while harvesting the simplicity of form and colour of the medium.

    Word Count: 49

    Hans Jacoby

    Hans Jacoby fled in 1938 to the Netherlands, where he was interned by the Dutch government in Hook of Holland. He was able to leave the camp and arrived, together with his wife Emma Jacoby, in Shanghai in 1940 where he continued to work as an artist.

    Word Count: 45

    Shanghai Life

    Shanghai Life was the first book published by the newly-founded Shanghai Cartoonist Club (March 7, 1942). The club held its first exhibition in June of the same year, at the Shanghai Art Gallery on Nanking Road (now Nanjing Dong Lu).

    Word Count: 38

    Richard Paulick

    After studying with Hans Poelzig, Richard Paulick worked in Walter Gropius’s office and frequented the Bauhaus in Dessau before emigrating to Shanghai in 1933. After his return, he became an influential planner and architect in the GDR, from 1950 until his retirement

    Word Count: 41

    John L. Isaack

    John Isaack studied for a year and a half at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin before joining an advertising, stage and fair design company. He arrived in Shanghai in 1939 and found work as a graphic artist at Adcraft an advertising agency before being forced to move into the designated refugee area in Hongkou.

    Word Count: 55