Fritz Eichenberg’s provocative image of Jesus standing in the breadline reflects his own spiritual journey as a non-religious Jewish-German who became a Quaker after the death of his wife. Titling the woodcut “Christ of the Breadlines”, he demonstrates his understanding of what it means for Jesus to fully identify with the poor and hungry – and further – what it means for Jesus to fully identify with each one of us in our own impoverishment and hunger.
For more on the artist, see below:
Fritz Eichenberg (October 24, 1901 – November 30, 1990) was a German-American illustrator and arts educator who worked primarily in wood engraving. His best-known works were concerned with religion, social justice and nonviolence.
Eichenberg was born to a Jewish family in Cologne, Germany, where the destruction of World War I helped to shape his anti-war sentiments. He worked as a printer’s apprentice, and studied at the Municipal School of Applied Arts in Cologne and the Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig, where he studied under Hugo Steiner-Prag. In 1923 he moved to Berlin to begin his career as an artist, producing illustrations for books and newspapers. In his newspaper and magazine work, Eichenberg was politically outspoken and sometimes both wrote and illustrated his own reporting.
In 1933, the rise of Adolf Hitler convinced Eichenberg, a public critic of the Nazis, to emigrate with his wife and children to the United States, where he settled in New York City for most of the remainder of his life. He taught art at the New School for Social Research and at Pratt Institute and was part of the WPA‘s Federal Arts Project. Eichenberg also served as the head of the art department at the University of Rhode Island.
Raised in a non-religious family, Eichenberg had been attracted to Taoism as a child. Following his wife’s unexpected death in 1937, he turned briefly to the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation, then joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1940. Though he remained a Quaker until his death, Eichenberg was also associated with Catholic charity work through his friendship with Dorothy Day—whom he met at a Quaker conference on religion and publishing in 1949—and frequently contributed illustrations to Day’s newspaper the Catholic Worker (where the above noted image first appeared).
He died at home in Peace Dale, Rhode Island on November 30, 1990 at age 89 from complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Information taken from Wikipedia
For more see, “The Mystery of the Poor.”