Ben Uri collection


Artist information

Name Fred Kormis (1897-1986)

Other name Fritz

Born Frankfurt, Germany

Died London, England

Find more work in the collection by this artist

Fritz (Fred) Kormis was born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany in 1897 and apprenticed to a sculpture workshop at the age of 14. During the First World War (owing to his Austrian father), he was drafted into the Austrian army, and in 1915 was captured, wounded and imprisoned for five years in Siberia - an experience which moulded the rest of his life and career. Eventually, he escaped and after procuring a Swiss passport in Vladivlostok, returned to Frankfurt in 1920, where he resumed his career. Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933, he moved first to Holland and then, in 1934 to England, where he settled in North London's 'Finchleystrasse', later gaining British citizenship. Much of his work was lost after his studio was bombed in 1940.

Kormis' memorial work was a major part of his oeuvre and includes the five-piece 'Prisoners of War and Concentration Camp Victims Memorial' in Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, and a relief plaque, 'Marchers', outside Kings College, London. A memorial exhibition of his work was held at the Sternberg Centre in 1988.

Object Details

Date c. 1949

Object type sculpture

Medium plaster

Materials and techniques plaster (medium)

Dimensions 46.2 x 19.1 x 8 cm

Acquisition presented by Willi Soukop RA 1992

Accession number 1992-6

Display status not on display

Kormis’ most important work remained distinctly personal in origin. He first exhibited a maquette for a Memorial for a war cemetery at a solo exhibition at the Berkeley Galleries, West London, in May 1946, believing that ‘the post-war world need[ed] artistically significant monuments which serve[d] no immediate utilitarian purpose’. For the rest of his working life he wrestled with the problem of how to deliver a war memorial which combined both ‘bereavement and hope’, eventually resulting in his Monument to Prisoners of War erected in Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, in 1970. His works on these themes also includes 'Marchers' (1974), outside King’s College London, and a supporting, emblematic series of prophets. An earlier study for a memorial, exhibited in 1946, included an adolescent boy called 'The Young Prophet'. This piece may be a maquette for a later iteration of this subject.

Selected exhibition history

1949 Contemporary Jewish Artists - Exhibition of Paintings Sculpture Drawings

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© Fred Kormis estate