Past Exhibitions

2. October 2015 to 29. May 2016
abgedreht! Stage Designs-Living Spaces
Chaim Heinz Fenchel 1906-1988



Curated by Chana Schütz
accompanying publication

Heinz Fenchel in Tel Aviv, Foto privat

Heinz Fenchel in Tel Aviv, Foto privat

In February 1937, the Berliner Heinz Fenchel disembarked at Haifa after crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Italy. Stashed in the trunk of his Fiat were countless drawings and photographs from the early days of German and internationals feature films–sketches of scenery and stage designs for love stories and action movies, crime dramas such as the first German film adaptations of Edgar Wallace, and fast-paced big-city comedies, many set in the world of cabaret.

Heinz Fenchel designed the spaces for all these productions and flourished as a sought-after set designer in the Weimar Republic.





Fenchel’s career as a film architect ended in 1933 in Germany: As a Jew, he was forbidden to work. He still lived in Berlin’s Tiergarten quarter and created sets for films being made in Paris, Vienna, Prague, and after 1934, in Copenhagen. His last film in Europe was the Dutch production The Trouble with Money (1936), directed by Max Ophüls. In contrast to many of his peers who sought film work in Hollywood, Fenchel chose to live in Eretz Israel, knowing full well that he would be unable to continue working as a set designer in a country without a noteworthy film industry.

In Palestine’s thriving metropolis Tel Aviv Fenchel began to make a name for himself as an innovative architect and interior designer of urban coffeehouses and bars, elegant businesses and private residences. Later he became famous for his designs and furnishings of luxury hotels – not only in Israel, but also in West Africa, where he designed huge hotel- complexes. The aesthetic and architectural sensibility he brought to bear on these large, intricate building projects drew profoundly upon his first career as film set designer.

Following the comprehensive exhibition An Artist’s Paintbrush: Chaim Heinz Fenchel at the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv (2012), Fenchel’s designs for the film set as well as for living spaces will be shown for the first time in Germany at Berlin’s Centrum Judaicum -New Synagogue Foundation. They bring to the spotlight an artist whose career began auspiciously in Berlin during the Weimar Republic and whose accomplishments reached their peak in Israel.

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