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Lisel Oppel (b. 14 October 1897 in Bremen; d. 11 July 1960 in Bremen)

Unconventional from Conviction

Visual Artist / Life Artist

Film-Aufnahme und Schnitt: Monika B. Beyer


Lisel Oppel was a painter and ceramicist. In the course of many travels that took her far afield of her adopted home town Worpswede, she became a very cosmopolitan artist. Freedom and independence were more important to her than a secure life dictated by convention.

Thanks to her parents’ open-minded outlook, Lisel Oppel received a good artistic education. She moved to Worpswede in 1919. In the artist’s colony, Martha Vogeler became her especially good friend and business partner.

Her hopes of being able to live in Worpswede on her earnings from her artworks were only partially fulfilled. She bartered her paintings for basic goods and helped out on large farms in return for room and board. In 1929 she was granted monthly financial aid from the private funds of a number of Bremen citizens in support of her art.

Oppel put up with a number of disadvantages for the sake of her independence. During the National Socialist era, for example, she refused to become a member of the Reich Chamber of Culture and thus relinquished the right to receive coupons for painting utensils. She also courageously took on the challenge of caring for her son without giving up her art.

Lisel Oppel spent a number of years in Italy. In a pottery workshop in Vietri sul Mare near Positano, she learned the ceramics craft, which became her second professional mainstay. In the 1950s she also travelled to Spain, Morocco and Egypt to paint.