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Lou Albert-Lazard (Mabull)


Lou Albert-Lazard was born in 1885 in Metz (then part of Germany), daughter to a Jewish banking family. From 1908 to 1914 she studied art in Munich and Paris, becoming friendly with the artist Fernand Léger. In 1909 she married Eugene Albert and gave birth to a daughter. Her marriage foundered because of her close relationship with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, with whom she lived in Munich and Vienna from 1914 to 1916. She was part of an intellectual milieu that included, among others, Romain Rolland, Stefan Zweig, Paul Klee and Oscar Kokoschka.

From 1916 to 1918 Albert-Lazard lived in Switzerland. She then moved to Berlin where she was close to an avant-garde group of artists known as the Novembergruppe. Her work consisted mostly of drawings and etchings of her friends. In 1928 she settled permanently in Paris, becoming part of the artistic community of Montparnasse. Her acquaintances included Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti and Robert Delauney. Albert-Lazard went on several journeys with her daughter, visiting North Africa, India, Tibet and other places. Drawings and watercolors inspired by their travels were exhibited in 1939.

In May 1940 Albert-Lazard and her daughter were interned at Gurs, but she was released again in August. While at Gurs, she produced drawings and watercolors. She used the women inmates as her models, depicting them in various scenes of camp life. Albert-Lazard used to wander around the camp in a wide-brimmed hat and colorful scarf, sketchpad in hand. She was considered an eccentric.

After her release, Albert-Lazard returned to her apartment in Paris and in the 1950s resumed travelling with her daughter by caravan, recording her impressions in watercolors and lithographs. She died in Paris in July 1969.

Several works done by Albert-Lazard in Gurs are included in the art collection of Beit Lohamei Haghetaot (The Ghetto Fighters' House Museum). These works were signed "Mabull".

(Dr Pnina Rosenberg)


Lou Albert-Lazard: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Grafik. Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 1983.

Gabrielle Mittag. Es gibt nur Verdammte in Gurs: Literatur, Kultur und Alltag in einen Südfranzouml;sischen Internierungslager, 1940-1941. Attempto-Verlag, Tübingen, 1996.

Gabrielle Mittag (editor). Gurs - Deutsche Emigranten im Französischen Exil. Argon Verlag, Berlin, 1990.

Miriam Novitch. Spiritual Resistance - 120 Drawings from Concentration Camps and Ghettos, 1940-1945. The Commune of Milan, Milan, 1979.

Hanna Schramm and Barbara Vormeier. Vivre à Gurs: Un camp de concentration Français. Maspero, Paris, 1979.