Féder was born on 16 July 1887 in Odessa to a family of Jewish merchants. In 1905 he joined the "Bund" and because of his political activity was forced to flee from his country. He went to Berlin and studied art, moving to Geneva during 1908-9, where he attended the art academy there. In 1910 he moved to Paris to continue his studies, spending two years at the Julianne academy and the academy of Henri Matisse. He was considered one of the Ecole de Paris artists, who were to be seen frequently at the Rotonde cafe in Montparnasse. In 1912 his works were exhibited at the Salon d'Automne.
Féder loved the landscape of the South of France, which appears in many of his paintings. In 1926 he travelled to Palestine, where the scenery and the colorfulness of the people he encountered made a great impression on him. When he returned to Paris he brought with him pictures portraying the old and the new - young Jewish pioneers, old Jews at prayer, Yeshiva students, Yemenites, Arabs and Beduins. Féder enjoyed a high reputation in the Paris art world and distinguished art critics such as Gustave Kahn heaped praise on him. He was commissioned to illustrate several books, among them a book of poems by the symbolist Arthur Rimbaud.
With the outbreak of war Féder refused to leave Paris, joining the underground. He and his wife, Sima, were betrayed and arrested on 10 June 1942. They were imprisoned in Cherche-Midi prison, and after four months, in September 1942, Féder was transferred Drancy. From there he was deported to Auschwitz on 13 December 1943. While in Drancy he painted many portraits of his fellow inmates. Sima Féder, his widow, donated some of these works to the art collection of Beit Lohamei Haghetaot (the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum).
(Dr Pnina Rosenberg)
Photo: Beit Lohamei Heghetaot
Memorial in Honour of Jewish Artists, Victims of Nazism. The Oscar Ghez Foundation, University of Haifa, no date.
Naftali Schneid, "Figures in Drancy in the Paintings of Adolphe Féder," in Holocaust and Resistance Research Papers, Second collection, February 1952, Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Museum, Ghetto Fighters' House. Published by the Kibbutz Hameuchad.
Gustave Kahn. Adolphe Féder. Paris, c1929.
Simon Lissim. 7quot;Adolphe Féder", Mobilier et Décoration (avril 1932).
Maxilian Gauthier. "Adolphe Féder", L'art vivant (octobre 1934).
Miriam Novitch. Spiritual Resistance – 120 Drawings from Concentration Camps and Ghettos 1940-1945. The Commune of Milan, Milan, 1979.
Miriam Novitch. Spiritual Resistance: Art from Concentration Camps 1940-1945 - A selection of drawings and paintings from the collection of Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot. Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981.
Nos Artists: Morts victimes du Nazisme. No. 4 ( Février 1960), Association des artistes peintres et sculpteurs Juifs de France.
Kenneth E. Silver and Romy Golan. The Circle of Montparnasse: Jewish Artists in Paris 1905-1945. The Jewish Museum, Universe Books, New York, 1985.
L'Internement des juifs sous Vichy. Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine, Paris, 1996.