Introduction from the Schneuer book, text by Yona Ficher.
David Schneuer, a resident of Tel Aviv for the past 50 years, is immersed simultaneously in all the circumstances that make up his biography. His painting, however, is located somewhere outside the chronological sequence of art history. His enigmatic personality stands in stark contrast to his flowing imagination, to the pictorial diary unfolding before us in hundreds of pages, as an endless variation on a single, obsessive image. Schneuer peeps at the world, at his past and at the present only to return to his private world, conscious of, but uninvolved in times, places and situations. His feelings towards them have dissolved, they continue to exist through his imagination, out of a need to connect a restricted living-space with the outside world, reluctantly establishing minimal mutual relations. The images, however profuse and voluptuous, are alienated from external reality, as if rendered immune from it. and only its echoes penetrate the cloak of hermeticity in which he is wrapped.
It should not be assumed from the above, however, that there is anything oppressive about his art. Is it introverted then? Its configurations, devoted to the depiction of a very specific kind of society, are cast in a mould that fits the play instinct of a man who is not involved with his fellow-men. Both artist and his work are removed from any social context. And when his art does contain a statement on society, it is essentially sensuous and intuitive in its expression, existing mainly by force of inertia. Timeless and nameless, its starting point is always in the unknown.
It is a course of continuous accumulation. Accumulated experience, accumulated memories and images, accumulated fresh starts. Nevertheless, both his life and art seem completely devoid of nostalgia. His creative energy has left behind a series of disconnections. Its vitality springs from the new beginnings. The past was filtered through it, crystallizing into an airtight present — the present of a veteran artist who, as mentioned above, does not concern himself with contemporary art anyway. The majority of the Tel Aviv art galleries are concentrated at walking distance from his home, but Schneuer keeps away from them. He professes not to be an intellectual. With the same touch of irony he claims to be a craftsman, and more seriously - a craftsman who paints for pleasure,
In his top-floor Tel Aviv apartment, the artist ' who paints for pleasure has a "closed balcony" — like thousands of others, unifying gaping house-fronts in the Bauhausiau city — which functions as a studio. Its drawers overflow with hundreds of sketches, drawings and paintings, as well as postersand photographs — a medley of evidence of the “craftsman's" many years of versatile work. The alls of his spacious, very simply furnished living-room, however, are reserved for a display of his resent work: a few dozen paintings, a small cavalcade that Schneuer hangs to please himself, continually replacing the paintings with others.
These are a few examples of the late phase of his life and art, less than 20 years, devoted in the main painting.
His only language after 50 years in Tel Aviv is German, and he speaks broken Hebrew. Most of is acquaintances - artists as well as others - were “Yekkes” like himself, and a minority were of Polish extraction. Almost all were, in varying degrees, refugees of the Nazi regime, and almost ill are now dead. "The Poles regarded me as a “Yekke”, and the “Yekkes” as a Pole", recalls Schneuer. "Yekke" or Pole? Today he speaks with a touch of nostalgia of being born in the town of Przemisl, although he does not remember a thing about it. His father was born there, and his mother, a peasant's daughter, was from a neighbouring village. Przemisl, situated in Galicia, was in those days a Polish town under Austrian rule, "a place inhabited by Poles, Russians, Austrians, and what have you". Among its Jews, constituting about one-third of the population, there were many tradesmen.
David was born in, 1905. In his early childhood the family, on its way to America, delayed in Hamburg, and eventually settled for good in Munich. "My father, a handsome man, belonged to the middle intelligentsia. He had studied in a Yeshiva and knew his Talmud. He wanted to be a writer, but was forced by circumstances to become a businessman. His German was faultless, "whereas my mother spoke a mixture of German and Yiddish", When his father was conscripted into the army during the First World War, his mother brought up the children, eking out an existence from a dress shop. "I went to a Catholic school and grew up to some extent at home, and more in the streets, playing with the Bavarian children of the neighbourhood". Towards the end of his studies at the OBERREALSCHULE (secondary school), Schneuer was a member both pf BAR KOCHBA, a non-Zionist Jewish sports club, and of BLAU-WEISS, an association preparing its members for Zipnist activity. In .this framework, Schneuer was sent to East Prussia and trained in assorted farming chores: loading the harvest on horses, sowing potatoes. Schneuer underwent some of the formative experiences of his life before the age of 20.eanwhile, he did not know whether to be a German, a German Jew or a Zionist Jew, a farmer or a merchant. Of medium height and broad-shouldered, diligent, and energetic, he was destined to become a “craftsaman”. “Farming was actually my first preparation for craftsmanship,” Says Schneuer. The turn of events, combined with his intuition and strong sensuality, were to make the craftsman onto an artist.
Upon returning from Prussia he took to lettering and painting signboards for Jewish shops in Munich. He spent six months with a sign painter in Berlin. Upon returning to Munich he applied to the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of arts and crafts) in the Louisenstrasse. Schneuer relates: “Professor Richard Klein, who was in charge of the Munchner Konstlerfeste, assigned us to design a poster for the event. I submitted two sketches and was thrown out of school for ‘insufficient talent’, only to discover that the actual poster announcing the Kunstlerfeste was based on one of my sketches”. From there he went on to the Berufsschule (vocational school) in the Werkenriederstrasse, under the direction of professor Ruckert. “it was a good school where I learned to make decorative designs”. To support himself during his studies, he designed “expressionist and simple” posters. Among his Munich friends was Georg Gidal brother of the well-known photographer Tim Gidal, and a photographer in his own right. He persuaded Schneuer to go to Paris. Schneuer followed his advice. “Why Paris?” he asks today. “For no particular reason. I was naïve. I arrived in Paris with a Scanty knowledge of French, laboriously acquired during six years of study. A friend found me a hotel in Montparnasse. For half a year I lived in a room on the sixth floor, a tiny room with a tiny table. In the evenings I would sit drawing from my imagination, and during the day I roamed the streets”. Most of the drawings he did in Paris disappeared together with his books after his release from Dachau.
Upon his return to Munich – once more taking the advice of Georg Gidal – he introduced himself at the Munchnern Kammerspiele Im Schauspielhuse, and was engaged at the theater. The first part of his artistic career had begun. It was to come to an end five years later, in 1932.
There probably could not exist a more intimate relationship than that which was Forged between the Munich Schauspielhaus and its staff in the years preceding the rise of Nazism. It bore the imprint of a social and cultural, no less than political, destiny. The kammerspiele and the schauspielhaus companies were merged only in 1926, i.e., a few months before Schneuer began working at the theatre, but their history dates back to the early pan of the century. The monchner kammerspiele company was established in 1911. Hugo Ball, one of the founders of Zurich dada during tKe First World War, was its Dramaturg in 1913. Bertold Brecht, too, performed the functions of Chefdramaturg in the years 1922-1924, and during this period consolidated his epic theatre, and even acted together with the famous comedian Kari Valentin. From the mid-twenties, prominent names in German theatre were linked to the Munchner Kammerspiele; Otto Falckenberg functioned as its manager in 1927, seconded by the lawyer Adolf Kaufmann, the producer Julius Gell-ner and the first Dramaturg Heinrich Fischer in leading managerial tasks. Robert Forster-Larrinaga, Richard Revy and Josef diickmann produced and Otto Reigbert was the first stage designer. Among the actors there were distinguished names like Therese Giehse, Wolfgang Liebendner, Hans Schweikart and Kurt Horwitz — the character actor playing the parts of heroes and lovers. There was no fixed cast, however, and everyone tried his hand at almost everything.
Following the "Brecht period", some of the troupe members gathered around the social critic "and poet Karl Kraus, editor of the satirical periodical Du Faekel,
The year 1933 was to bring about the dispersal of this dosely-knit group. Like several Munich intellectuals - the writers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Brono Frank and Alfred Neumann, the editor of Smpbcissimus T. T. Heine, the painters George Schrimpf, Karl Zcrbc and Richard Lindner, and tfie typographer Hans Tschihold - some of the foremost members of the company, among them the Jews Julius Gellner, Therese Giehse, Kurt Horwitz and David Schneuer, would leave Germany. Gellner was to produce the play Das Schuie-ttischt Z&ndholz in January 1933, and then depart for Prague, Therese Giehse, making her last appearance in the play, would find refuge in Zurich, Horwitz was to disappear after performing in Der Hiimul Europas in July 1933, and so was David Schneuer - after painting his last playbill for Lumpaci Vagdbundus in October 1932.
But Jet us return to the year 1927.
How did Schneuer come to be taken on at the theatre? He recalls being sent to Falckenbcrg and showing him the drawings he had brought back from Paris, According to Schncuer, Falckenberg at the time was working on the adaptation of Frank Wede-kind's play Lulu. "He asked me if I was familiar with Lulu. I said no. 'Buy the book,' he said. I read it in the evening and the next day I made a black-and-white drawing, spontaneously giving expression to my perception of the plot. When I returned to Fakkenberg J found him in the company of T.T. Heine, two giants and little me. Fakkenberg fastened the Drawing onto the door, and they both studied it and praised me for it I was engaged on the spot."
His assignment was to "make the placards, texts and pictures, for the theatre-front in Maximilian-strasse". But after only a few weeks he was offered the opportunity to make a poster for Edgar Wallace's play Der Hexer. The sets for this production were designed by Otto Reigbert, one of Germany's most prominent stage designers, who worked at the kammersfjele throughout the twenties. His designs included the powerful Expressionist-Cubist sets for Bertold Brecht's Trom-mcin in derNacht in 1922. By 1927, when Schneuer started to work tinder him, Reigbert w/as top stage designer at the theatre. It "is difficult to make a step-by-step reconstruction of Schncuer's career as playbill and stage designer during his years at the kammerspiele. The theatre archives were confiscated and virtually destroyed after the Second World War.
Schneuer has the following to say about his work as designer of playbills: 'The kammerspiele was a repertory theatre, producing a large number of plays. If the first performance was a success I was asked to design a poster. I would get down to work immediately after opening night, so that it would be possible to put the poster up the following day. I was expected to finish it by ten in the morning, and sometimes they called on me already at nine. I was a virtuoso craftsman, often completing the work within twenty minutes I worked in the courtyard. I remember how I would pass through it in the! company of the carpenter, and Gellner would glance at the poster from his window. Then we'd go and put it up."
The fact that the Schauspielhaus was suffering from financial difficulties in those years was evident not only in the cautious policy in the preparations of playbills. For various reasons, partly of a cultural and political nature, the theatre in the Maximiliansrasse failed to repeat its successes from the period in the Augustusstrasse and was forced to combine "quality" plays with box-office hits. The frugality included the playbills; "I myself executed the linocuts of my posters, having to make do with two or three colours. Later on someone else printed the linocuts”.
Munich in the twenties was a city of excellent osier designers, Karl Arnold, Josef Seche, Herlann Ketmal, Max Eschle, Julius Ussy Engelhard, Ludwig Hohlwein, Hans Tschihold, and Paul Renner among them. All their works – commercial asters, fashion and sports posters as well as art posters - were printed in the lithograph technique. Schneuer was probably one of the few, and certainly one of the first, Munich artists to make linocuts. How did Schneuer come to use it? He says: "Once I saw a capital letter cut in lino in a printing office. I decided to employ the technique for a poster, and found it easy to work in”.
The Munich poster designers were excellent typographers. Tschihold, the author of Die Neue typograpkie (Berlin, 1928), Renner, Karl Arnold and Rene Binder were eminent representatives of Constructivist typography, uniting geometric form and lettering, a vanguard typography that had already gained ground all over Europe. Keimel, Seche, Eschle and Hohlwein, on the other hand, established design and lettering as separate hut equal element? of the poster, closer in spirit to "Art Deco" than to pure Constructivism, whereas the style of Engelhard was illustrative and related to the traditional "fin de siecle" design. The expressionist style predominating in Seche's posters of the early twenties, was almost completely to disappear from Munich posters towards the end of that decade, although traces of it can still be distinguished in the sets of the plays that were staged at its theatres.
Schneuer's posters, too, were based on an equal treatment of design and lettering, and their combination is primarily an expression of his spontaneous approach and flair for improvisation. Both qualities, in his opinion, accounted for his ability to meet the pressing tune limits, to carry out die shortened route from the quick outline to the printing of the posters from the linoleum block. To a large extent the fast process determined his characteristic style, but it only partly explains it.
Schneuer was familiar with the art styles prevalent in Munich at the time, particularly the style common to several of the graphic; artists working for its magazines - caricaturists, illustrators and Advertisement designers.
Among the exhibition that be saw he refers in general terms to the expressionist ones, but emphasizes his interest in the “Neue Sachlichkeit” artists, Schrimpf, Dix and Grozs.
This shows that he was not particularly curious about modernistic painting and documents his predilection for themes of a human and social character.
Schneuer acknowledges that he liked to study copies of Simplicissimus and the drawings of Pascin which were reproduced in it. But not only the drawings of Pascin, one surmises, since the last of these seems to have been published in this magazine in November 1926. By the late twenties, it featured drawings by the editor, T.T.Heine-who was at home at the Schauspielhous – M.Frinchmann, whose figures at times reveal a Pscin-like sensuousness, E.Schilling, the poster designer Karl Arnold, and Wilhelm Schultz, E. Thony and O. Gulbransson, “the greatest of them all” in Schneuer’s estimation. The stylized character of the figures in Schneuer’s posters based primarily on an elegant, sensuous and exuberantly humorous outline, And on a surface pattern of positive and negative shape, recalls the mischievous and erotic spirit prevailing not only among Simplicissimus illustrators, but on the pages of other Munich magazines as well, such as the prestigious Munchner Jugend and the popular weekly Munchner Illustrierte Presse.
Illustration and advertising, drawing and photography merged in a new world, offering an abundance of pleasure luxury articles to the bourgeois consumer. The Jugend magazine of 1927, and the Munchner Illustrierte Presse featured photo-reportages from Paris. The twenties launched a choice of exotically performs and there were “Casanova” and “Der Rosenkavalier” cigarettes, so called after Richard Strauss’ opera. The ideal beauty was represented by American film stars.
In this realm between illustration and advertisement, eroticism reigned supreme. In the Munchner Illustrierte Presse, photographs of women were headlined “Amerikanische Sconheitsinvasion,” and the advertisements for a brand of perfume contrasted two types of feminine beauty under the slogan “Was sagt die alte Venus zur neven Venus?” The smiling woman and the femme fatale vied for the favour of the consumer, a modern woman, at once sporty and stripped. Even when she cuddled a baby in her arms, the camera exposed her hips. In 1928, Franz von Stuck, the creator of Salome (Lenbachhaus, 1906) – “the artist who established the Academy style”, according to Schneuer – died.
His brand of eroticism continued to fertilize the imagination, however, and its influence was fully recognizable on the pages of magazines. There no longer seemed to be any trace of Kandinsky, who had worked in Munich until 1914. True, below the surface of the bourgeois culture, celebrating day to day life, there was the activity of intellectuals like Thomas Mann and artists of the “Neue Sachlichkeit”, who examined the fate of common man. It is also true that the basic messege of Simplicissimus, reproducing the drawings of Geoge Grosz and Alfred Kubin, was social and political. But this activity was submerged in the manic culture of consumption.
Munich theatre, more than anything, reflected the tention between the two extremes. From 1927 to 1932 they could offered a wide repertory, ranging from pure entertainment to plays defending freedom of expression. In the early twenties, the city’s three main theatres served as vehicles for the staging of modern literary dramas. From 1928, however, avant-garde plays (among them dramas dealing with political issues) met with hostile reactions. While the prestige of Reinhardt stood him in good stead when he visited Munich with his company, performing Dantons Tod in 1929, and Diener zwieier Herren in 1931, on the opening night of Ernst Krenek’s opera Johnny spielt auf at the Gartnertheater (June 1928), Nazi hoodlums bombardwd the stage with stink bomb. The attempt to set up a proletarian thetre faild, and another attempt to establish an anti-Nazi literary cabaret (featuring Therese Giehse) did not come off either. At the other extreme, Ralph Benatzky’s musical comedy Im weissen Rossel at the Deutsches theater scored the greatest success of those years., the Kammerspiele had to struggle against financial difficulties as well as against the illicit censorship. Its repertory was a combination of social comedies, classic and modern dramas, particularly after 1931, when the theatre merged with the Munchner Volkstheater, which specialized in light and musical comedies.
Little visual documentation of the activity of these two theatres has arrived: a few stage and actor photographs and posters. The only evidence of the stage sets and costumes that Schneuer designed for their productions – more than 10 sets in 1931 alone – is found in reviews in the daily papers between 1930 and 1932: a variety of popular and musical comedies, such as Das Kamel geht durch das nadelohr by Franstisek Langer (KAM – Merspiele, March 1930), Soeben Erschienen by Eduard Bourdet (Kammerspiele, probably January 1931), Der Brotverdiener, after somerset Maugham (Kammerspiele, July 1931), Madam hot Ausgang (Volkstheater; author’s name and dates unknown to us), etc
Much as these reviews praise Schneuer, they do not yield any significant information about his work. Schneuer on his part relates that he gained his experience in this field assisting Otto Reigbert the professional scene-painter, in executing his stage sets.
The tracing of Schneuer’s activity as poster designer is more tangible, albeit partial. At least the few surviving posters in Tel-Aviv can give us an indication of their character and range. The earliest of these is a poster that he designed for Edgar Wallace’s play Der Hexer, which was performed at the Kammerspiele on 20 September 1927 in a production by Foster-Larrinage. It already shows full mastery both of the technique of linocut and of surface design.
We have already mentioned the stylistic versatility, matching the style of the power with its spirit. For Joseph Ruderer’s play Die Morgenrote, which was performed on 3 August 1932 in a production by Kurt Horwitz. Schneuer designed a poster in the best 19th century tradition of popular illustration. Doubtless the action, set in Munich in 1848 required a conservative approach, both stylistically and in the relationship between text and picture, the latter taking up most of the poster surface.
In contrast, the poster that Schneuer designed for the Dreigroschenoper, written and composed by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill in 1928. is completely contemporary. The protagonists of the drama are beggars. The mischievous humour mocking the characters of a vaudeville show is here replaced by the realization of a human drama, achieved by purely pictorial means: the destiny of the protagonists reflect in the intensity of the colouring and dense figure composition. The style is expressionistic, and the sentiment the same as that which moved the painters of the “Neue Sachlichkeit”. The emotional intensity of this poster is exceptional, and it is found only in a few of his drawings from the same period. The Dreigroschenoper was performed at the Kammerspiele on 20 July 1929, produced by Schweikart, and with the original sets designed for the Berlin production by Casper Neher. Schneuer’s part in the production included the creation of dolls and a series of drawings witch were screened on the backdrop.
Tel - Aviv
In November 1933 Schneuer found himself walking along Allenby Street in Tel Aviv like "Gulliver among die Lilliputians". The eclectic style of the city, barely 25 years old, lent it an almost historical air, somewhere between Orientalism and the style of Eastern Europe. But the newly arrived immigrants from Germany, highly educated and employed in the liberal professions, brought with them the new BAUHAUS style of architecture -plain, unadorned, white three-storeyed houses, all but unknown in conservative Munich - and the suburbs of the "white city" began to indent the coastal dunes at a rapid rate.
The Munich period had come to an end in the first part of the same year. Schneuer was arrested, whether because of his Jewishness, or because of his Communist sympathies, and deported to Dachau. After being detained for two months, he was released and left Munich like a thief in the night, his suitcase full of drawings executed on sheets of the drawing pad purchased at the Bon Marche and a 'handful of books. Exhausted, he reached Prague, where he met friends, refugees like himself: Julius Gellner who helped him procure a small sum of money from one of the wealthy Prague Jews and Thomas Theodor Heine, frequenting an emigre cafe. A month and a half later the emigration certificate to Palestine, obtained by the instrumentality of Tim Gidal, arrived from Berlin, and Schneuer got up and left.
Here again we are in need of Schneuer's testimony in order to reconstruct the story of his life and work. However, as he likes to intertwine people and events in his reminiscences, and as he usually puts at most only his signature on his drawings, we have to go by the dates on which the posters appeared, cafes and hotels were opened, ships were launched and his friends immigrated to the country, in order to bring works of art and events together in time.
Schneuer's life in Israel can be divided into four main periods: The first Tel Aviv years (1933-1937), Jerusalem (1938-1939), back to Tel Aviv (1939-C.1965), and 1965 to the present. It is possible to define the first period as an adjustment to everyday life and to the dynamics of the rapidly emerging culture. This was a period of prosperity, culminating in the Levant Fair of 1934. The ensuing depression forced him to move to Jerusalem, but he soon returned to Tel Aviv and to a period of renewed building activity. The fourth , and final period is characterized by a gradual abandoning of applied graphics and of work in collaboration with architects, and by seclusion in the studio.
Schneuer in 1935 was hard pressed to earn a living. The "Yekkes" with whom he mingled could offer him no more than "good advice". He designed cigarette placards which appeared on the Tel Aviv kiosks, and from 1936 he was employed in the office of Ettlinger, an advertising agent producing newspaper and industrial advertisements. He designed, among other things, the trademark of Keshet, a large dry-cleaning and dyeing establishment, and the wrapping of Blueband margarine. Both belonged to the foremost Constructive! typography which went hand in hand with the new architecture of Tel Aviv.
Schneuer, however, missed the human figure and brought it back, sensuous and smiling, from 1939 onwards in works commissioned by the O.K advertising agency. On the eve of the Second World War, he drew the figure of a boy with unkempt hair and wearing a pixie cap as the trademark of the NECA company's Textile Shampoo washing powder. This boyish figure, one of the most popular images on the Israeli advertising scene, has survived to this very day, likable and nameless - a "Sabra" of "Yekkish" parentage. During and after the war, Schneuer continued to design a series of advertising campaigns in the newspapers.
Schneuer liked to work in his home at No. 3 Bograshov Street, near the sea: "I couldn't stay long in the O.K. office. I would arrive, make some sketches for Frau Kaufman and leave". He worked fast, almost hastily, an impetuous virtuoso. His, elegant line was exuberantly humourous, and Schneuer playfully exploited it for various purposes, outlining a rather complex composition with , forceful strokes, drawing a figure directly with a ! rounded, sensuous line, almost without lifting his j hand from the paper, with the assuredness of one ; who plans ahead, aiming at a simple and direct' image.
The circumstances which caused him to design posters also offered him the first sustained experience as an artist ~ long before he would be able to dedicate all his time to painting: in 1938 the graphic artist found himself out of a job and went to Jerusalem. With great effort he secured a scholarship from the JEWISH AGENCY "for the purpose of studying with Steinhardt". The Expressionist artist and the virtuoso draughtsman had nothing at all in common, but Schneuer made use of Steinhardt's friendship, the time at his disposal, and his creative urge, to draw from the model every day in the latter's spacious studio behind the yard of the BEZALEL School of Art and Crafts.
From around 1938, however, Schneuer invested his "wall decorations with definite graphic characteristics in style and execution, concentrating on pure elements of design in order to create atmosphere in a specific spatial context. In that year, Cafe PILZ, overlooking the sea, opened, the first cafe in town, according to Schneuer, with a genuinely "European style". It was planned by the architect Fenichel who commissioned Schneuer to do "wall decorations" for the cafe. The collaboration between the two was to continue for many years - into the early sixties.
Somebody once wrote in the PALESTINE POST that "all of Dizengoff (a main street) is full of Schneuer". He did wall-decorations for hotels, cafes and bars, adapting himself easily to .the customer's demands and to any style - from a stylized figurative representation to abstraction in the spirit of "Art Deco". He decorated a bar in Pinsker Street "in the Roman style". He made decorative designs for hotels such as the DAN CARMEL in Haifa, for the ZIM company's ships BILU and NILI, built in Antwerp in 1964, and for a big hotel in Abidjan, planned by Fenichel.
Without being aware of it, already in these wall decorations Schneuer kept aloof from his time. It seems paradoxical that the more designs he made for public places, the more he withdrew into an imaginary world, increasingly removed from the reality he himself witnessed.
Schneuer's withdrawal from his own times became an accomplished fact with the shift of his artistic activity from applied graphics and. architectural decoration to painting. The significance of this shift was not limited to the change per se. It implied a conversion from one kind of activity |to another - two activities constituting essentially conflicting messages. The message of applied, graphics is inherent in its very function, defined in advance by the mutual interests of client and designer, providing the means for a clear-cut collective impact. The message of art, on the other hand, is primarily the artist's personal statement. It.; rests mainly on the not necessarily deliberate' exposure of various personal strata. It has no, predetermined purpose or unequivocal addressee. The few drawings from the thirties that remain in Schneuer's portfolio dealt, in an off-hand way, with 'the reality in which he himself lived-in a penciled self-portrait - and with the surrounding world, arousing his curiosity - the exoticism of the Arab figures of Jaffa, seen through the eyes of a "Yekke", Sketchy in execution, they differ from the controlled, purposeful drawing intended for the commercial ads. The keenness of observation is translated into the sensitive line, completely devoid [of stylization and schematization. This reality finds another expression in the illustrative line of the Tel! Aviv street scenes, appearing sporadically in the PALESTINE POST
The works that Schneuer began in the late sixties - at the onset of his fourth Israeli period - deal less with reality than with its reflection. In these works he takes up images which for a long time have been suppressed, together with the past, at the back of: his mind. The new experiment occurs on a purely existential level, his artistic experience, in all its prior transmutations, having been fundamentally technical in character.
True, the human figure in the advertisements is the Very same as that represented in the paintings: stylized, sensuous, performing a part. The same, yet different. The restrictions resulting from a specific purpose are loosened and replaced by freedom of action, and by sheer creative zest.His friend Steinhardt once told him "You will become a good artist - you are not afraid of erasing". Schneuer, spontaneous as he is, composes his painting quickly, almost hurriedly. First with colour — red and blue, toned down to opaque shades of violet, grey, light-blue and Sienna red. If the hue does not seem right to him he wipes it out and starts afresh. Once, painting a ceiling, he began using the remainder of the glue in the bucket "in order to achieve delicate shades". Now he uses dirty water for the same purpose. "That's my trick", says Schneuer.
The means — the "tricks" - are simple, and employed for the final formulation of the painting. The scene is represented frontally - a theatrical parade of attractive men haunting loose girls in imaginary bars, which Schneuer, shy as he is, probably never frequented; figures from the world of Les Enfants du Paradis, La Boheme, of Baudelaire, of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret and Mucha – a Munich version of Paris, fashioned in Te! Aviv. All the figures arc linked, all the elements are joined I into what Schneuer regards as the main thing: "Plasticity and dynamics, balance and line". "A splash of colour turning into a body", he adds, "into a face, into hair". The composition is constructed on two levels - the division of the surface into areas of colour, which are further divided into linear rhythms, groups of figures, a female bust facing the erect, arrogant figure of a man. Both levels not only strike a harmonious chord, but primarily set up a new configuration in which Schneuer's past as stage designer and illustrator fuses and periods and memories intertwine.
"Elegance", said Raymond Radiguet, the author of Le Diable au Corps, "should look somewhat slovenly". In Schneuer's elegant figures, the "slight slovenliness" is expressed in a sense of candid eroticism which accompanies them. Perhaps this elegance is only the outer expression of an ironic ceremony in which the fashionable and ridiculed protagonists parade like actors on a stage. Schneuer admires Picasso, but unlike the latter he remains aloof and does not participate in the lives of his protagonists. In a realm of obsessed imagination, the show must go on.