Appelbaum (Appelboym, Apfelboym, Applebaum), Moshe

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APPELBAUM (Appelboym, Apfelboym, Applebaum) MOSHE

APPELBAUM (Appelboym, Apfelboym, Applebaum ), MOSHE (Maurycy ; 1887–1931), painter, graphic artist, and stage designer. Appelbaum was born in Mszsonow in the Warsaw province of Poland and received a traditional Jewish education. His artistic gift manifested itself already in his early childhood. Seeing no way to fulfill his artistic ambitions in a traditional Jewish environment, Appelbaum ran away from home at the age of 15 and found a job in Kalish as an apprentice to a house painter who made signboards. At the same time, he underwent a process of self-education. Soon his work was in greater demand than his employer's. In 1903, he got a job at a local textile mill as a pattern designer. In 1905, he came to Vienna and was admitted to the Academy of Art. However, he had to interrupt his studies due to lack of livelihood. For over a year, he traveled around Germany and Holland on foot. In 1907, he arrived in England and was admitted to an art school in Liverpool, where he studied for two years. In 1910–16, he attended, off and on, the London Academy of Arts. At the end of 1918, his first solo exhibition was on display in London, which brought him recognition. Despite promising prospects of an artistic career in England, he returned to Poland in 1919. Settling in Warsaw, he became very active in Jewish artistic life. He was among the initiators of the Jewish Society for the Encouragement of Artists founded in 1921 and a permanent member of its exhibition committee. He collaborated with Yiddish theaters, among them the Warshawer Yiddisher Kamer-Teater (wikt), where he designed the settings for several productions staged by Zygmunt Turkow, a leading Jewish theatrical director. Appelbaum was one of the pioneers of the new stage design for the Jewish modernist theater in Poland, into which he incorporated elements of constructivism and expressionism. In the mid-1920s, he produced wall paintings for the synagogue prayer halls in Lomzha and Bedzin (the latter in collaboration with the artists Ḥayyim Hanft and Samuel Tzigler) and executed murals for the assembly hall in the building of the Union of Jewish Writers and Artists in Warsaw. He participated in many European and All-Poland art exhibitions. In the late 1920s, his solo exhibitions were on display in Warsaw, Łodz, Lvov, and Germany. Appelbaum was active in almost every genre (landscape, still life, portrait, etc.), mainly preferring to treat scenes of the Polish-Jewish shtetl. His manner features elements of cubism and expressionism and grotesque imagery of characters. In his monumental paintings, especially the synagogue murals, Appelbaum widely used motifs of traditional Jewish art. In the late 1920s, in an attempt to improve his difficult financial situation, he moved to Katowice with his family, where he died of tuberculosis.


C. Aronson, "Oysshtelung fun Moshe Apelboym," in: Illustrierte Voch (Warsaw), 38, 40 (1914), 22–28; O. Schneid, "Mojżesz Applebaum," in: Miesięcznik Żydowski (Warsaw), 3 (Feb. 1931), 263–65; Y. Sande, Yidishe Motiven fun der Foiisher Kunst (1954), 245–55; J. Malinowski, Malarstwo i rzeźba Żydow Polskich w xix i xx wieku (2000), 369–70.

[Hillel Krakovsky (2nd ed.)]