The theme of the exhibition is the history of Max Slevogt’s still life and that of its former owner Hugo Simon (1880-1950), a Jewish banker and former Prussian Finance Minister of the Independent Social Democrats in Berlin, well known art lover and collector as well as model for Alfred Döblin’s novel “November 1918”. After Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor on January 30th 1933 Simon was therefore in danger on several grounds – for racist and political reasons. He emigrated to France, in June 1940 he and his wife Gertrud managed to escape to unoccupied Marseille and finally 1941 via Spain and Portugal to Brazil.
The Graubünden artist Rita Janett (1893-1965) and Hugo Simon were bound in a close friendship ever since their time together in Paris. Janett was active in the milieu of the Tessin artist group “Der grosse Bär” in the 1920s. She helped Simon and his wife on their flight. In the exhibition the friendship between them is reflected on for the first time, a friendship that survived escape, persecution and exile as well as financial insecurity and physical separation.