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A new exhibition in the Discovery Room entitled The Lost Expressionist – Nick Yudell, A Photographer Discovered reveals a vibrant world in Manitoba of the 1930s. Nick Yudell’s photographs feature dramatic portraiture, experimental photography, and images of play, place, and self. His life touched the rural, urban, ethnic, and Jewish communities.
Imagine opening a hidden cache of negatives shot before World War II by a young man from Morden, Manitoba who perished during that War. No one has seen these negatives since the youth closed the box that he made for his life’s work and enlisted with the RAF in 1940 to defend freedom. Enclosed is a vivid world captured by a young Jewish Canadian photographer from rural Manitoba during the Dirty Thirties. The photographer was Nick Yudell (1916-1943), an RAF pilot who perished in North Africa during World War II.
Nick Yudell’s dramatic photographs span the Jazz Age – when he was twelve and received a camera – and the Great Depression, bridging the 1920s through 1930s. His stunning black and white images make those times vivid and capture a world of glamour and grit. He depicted himself and others in striking portraits and anticipated avant-garde art with double exposures and experimental lighting.
Nick organized his images into an archive preserved by his cousin Milton Rabinovitch (1909-2001). Artist and author Celia Rabinovitch created The Lost Expressionist to recognize Nick’s artistic vision and the various communities he touched. Nick Yudell is a lost artist whose images have been brought to life in this exhibition.
The Lost Expressionist – Nick Yudell, A Photographer Discovered was art directed and curated by Dr. Celia Rabinovitch, in partnership with the Manitoba Museum.
Discovery Room admission is included in General Admission to the Museum Galleries.
Read this article about this exhibition from the Berkeley University of California Canadian Studies Program.
Canadian Studies Berkeley -The Lost Expressionist 2022
Praise for The Lost Expressionist
“Moments of everyday life reflecting a particular time and place transport us to speak to present-day circumstances and sensibilities. Celia Rabinovitch does great justice to the spirit, intent, creativity and world view of Nick Yudell. These marvelous photographs make a public dialogue possible in which the past becomes a vehicle for understanding our present and perhaps provides insight into what lies ahead.”
Stanislao Carbone, Director of Programs and Exhibits, Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
“The work that Celia has done through her passionate attention, bringing the past into our time reminds us of the complex tissue of existence and the balance between here and now, us and ‘them.’ ”
Ihor Holubizky, Art & Social Historian
“Her interpretation brings to life a strong story based on images by a photographer born a century ago. These are people immersed in the enormity of world events that were unfolding around them. Nick Yudell recalls Atget and other artists unknown in their lifetime, but whose hidden works were discovered by other creative artists. ”
Mary Phelan, Artist & Professor, University of the Arts, Philadelphia
These are stunning images. Celia’s detective work brings this “lost expressionist” and breathtaking archive to the world. Nick Yudell is as an emerging talent in rural Canada who uses his camera in ways that anticipate our contemporary visual culture of the selfie and although geographically at a great distance, his work parallels the avant-garde European artists of the early 20th century with his experimental and often surreal photographs.”
Sue Johnson, Artist & Professor of Art, Department of Art and Art History, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
These images are exceptional, stunning when one considers how young Yudell was. Although this exhibition tells the tale of a single man, it represents the efforts of many others like Nick Yudell who contributed to winning the Second World War — an important narrative for all to remember. It is a unique and important contribution to a segment of Jewish life and history that has received little attention, and to prairie and Canadian history at a significant time in history, during the Depression, and the history of World War II.
Dr. Shelley Sweeney, Archivist, Head of Archives of National Truth & Reconciliation Commission
Rabinovitch presented her work to the program in Berkeley and sparked the imagination of former Canadian Studies director Nelson Graburn, who understood it as a complete visual archive of a relatively unknown time and place in Canada. “If it were not for Nelson’s encouragement, this exhibition (with accompanying book) probably wouldn’t have happened,” Rabinovitch says. She received a John A. Sproul Research Fellowship in 2012 to support her work. Now, ten years later, the photographs form an impressive exhibition that reveals Yudell’s original vision.
Tomás Lane, Canadian Studies Program, University of California Berkeley
To learn more about The Lost Expressionist project, visit: lostexpressionist.com
To send comments or ask questions about The Lost Expressionist, email: [email protected]