Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Lou Albert-Lasard (1885 - 1969) - Germany

I am very grateful indeed to Penelope Monkhouse from Germany who has sent me biographies of several German women poets of WW1.

Penelope Monkhouse (*1952) is a German-British scientist living in Schwetzingen/Germany and is a granddaughter of the novelist, dramatist and literary critic Allan Monkhouse. Literature of the early 20thcentury is presently one of her chief non-scientific interests; she is presently engaged on a comparative study of German and English poetry of this period. She also writes poetry of her own and translates poetry to and from German and English. 

Lou Albert-Lasard (1885 - 1969) 

Born in 1885 in Metz in Lorraine, which was then part of the German Empire, was an expressionist painter from a Jewish banker’s family. Her sister Ilse Heller-Lasard (1884-1934) was also an artist. In the years 1908-1912 Lou studied art in Munich, where she met members of the “Blue Rider” expressionist group (e.g. Alexei Jawlensky, Marianne Werefkin). From 1912 she worked in the Atelier of Ferdinand Léger in Paris. 

Against her parent’s wishes, Lou married the chemist and inventor Eugène Albert (1856-1929) in 1909 and had a daughter Ingeborg (Ingo) (1911-1997). The marriage was short-lived and in September 1914, shortly after returning to Germany on the outbreak of war, she began an affair with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and spent part of the time until 1916 with him in Munich and Vienna. Both were deeply disturbed by the onset of the First World War and Lou recorded her feelings in a poem entitled “Kriegsausbruch” (Outbreak of War). 

She also painted a portrait of Rilke in July 1916.  Through him she became acquainted with writers and artists such as Annette Kolb, Franz Werfel, Stefan Zweig and Paul Klee. After moving to Berlin in 1919, Lou joined the newly formed expressionist November group. In 1928 she settled in Paris and became part of the artist’s group in the Quartier Montparnasse. Here she met Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti among others. 

With her daughter, Lou Albert-Lasard travelled in North Africa, India, Tibet and elsewhere. Drawings and watercolours brought from these journeys were exhibited from 1939. In May 1940 she and Ingo were interned in Gurs, but released three months later. During her time in Gurs she made drawings and watercolours showing portraits of fellow prisoners and scenes from the camp life. After her release she returned to Paris. In the 1950´s she again travelled with her daughter and made watercolours and lithographs, recording her impressions.   She died in Paris in 1969.

Nicole Schneegans: Une image de Lou. Collection Page Blanche, Gallimard 1996. 
Lou Albert-Lasard: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Grafik. Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 1983
Lou Albert-Lasard: Wege mit Rilke (Memoir), Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt/Main 1952