Portraits of activists by retired prof displayed in Germany

See a video of Schiffhauer discussing the “Torchbearers” series.

Portraits of Europeans who publicly opposed anti-Semitism and genocide during the turbulent 20th century, painted by Robert Schiffhauer, retired associate professor of architecture at Texas A&M, are on display at Bonn, Germany's Academy for International Education, a College of Architecture study abroad venue.

Earlier this summer, the portraits, which Schiffhauer created to honor people who he said "sought to bring about love, not hate, light, not darkness, and peace, not war," were exhibited in Bonn's Catholic Training Institute.

Guests at the exhibit's July 10, 2015 opening reception at the institute, which Schiffhauer attended, included Derek Kelly, a consulate general from the U.S. State Department’s nearby consulate in Dusseldorf, Germany, which sponsored the exhibit. 

The portraits of dissidents and activists include Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans, guillotined in 1943 for distributing antiwar leaflets, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian executed for his involvement in a Hitler assassination plot and opposition to Nazi genocidal persecution of Jews, and Claus von Stauffenberg, executed in 1944 after his leading role in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler was revealed.

“Though they lived in the shadows of death they feared no evil and taught us to be aware of it,” said Schiffhauer. “Their battle of truth to power is ours now to carry forward.”

The paintings, which Schiffhauer donated to the academy, are part of his “Torchbearers” series, a group of portraits honoring “those who light our way toward just societies that build up institutions for racial equality, freedom of speech, human rights, healthy environments and wise use of resources of land and sea,” he said.

His previous "Torchbearers" exhibits included portraits of luminaries from black history such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Texas A&M professor Charles Gordone.

Schiffhauer, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1969 and taught design communication, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and art history, retired following the spring 2015 semester. His classes were popular with design and visualization students.

He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale University in 1965 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Yale in 1964.

posted August 7, 2015