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Albert Reuss was a Jewish painter and sculptor who developed a uniquely individual style. Born in Vienna, he fled to England in 1938 following Hitler’s annexation of Austria. In the process, Reuss lost many members of his family, and the reputation he had built up as an artist in Vienna. He continued to work as an exiled artist in England, but his style changed dramatically, reflecting the trauma he had suffered.
I became aware of Reuss’s work at an exhibition of Cornish artists in November 2015 held at Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance. Little was known of this neglected artist, so I was determined to find out more about the life and work of this intriguing man; I interviewed many people who knew him and retrieved a huge archive from Vienna, which included much of Reuss’s lifetime correspondence. A fascinating story emerged, full of human drama and tragedy, and of the lonely and isolated artist's struggle to develop his art and to survive, all set against the background of world historic events. The recovered correspondence included first-hand accounts of Reuss’s escape from Vienna with his wife Rosa, and of their experience as refugees in wartime Britain....
Reuss was a complex individual. A tall, slim, handsome man, he could often appear aloof, even arrogant. Despite his Viennese elegance, he sometimes behaved irrationally, for example, he wrote a number of highly inappropriate letters to the very people who were trying to help him. Yet despite his eccentricities, and at times his unacceptable behavior, Albert could also be most charming and had a remarkable capacity to draw people to him, even those he offended. He and Rosa were genuinely loved by a large number of people who were prepared to go to great lengths to help and support them.