Born in Poland, Jankel Adler began his artistic career training as an engraver with his uncle before moving to Germany to live with his sister. There he became a teacher at the ‘Academy of Arts’ eventually striking up a close friendship with Paul Klee who was to greatly influence his work.
Adler spent the early twenties exploring the tensions between abstraction and naturalist representation in his painting. Much like the cubists of his generation, he used elements of collage in his work incorporating mystical Jewish symbolism by making use of the cards of the mezuzah and fragments of prayers.
By the time the Second World War broke out, the Nazis seized 25 of his works from public collections and a number were exhibited in the ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition in Munich. Soon after Adler escaped to Paris and then eventually to Scotland, where he died with the bitter knowledge that none of his 9 brothers and sisters survived the holocaust.