Skip to main content

Kurt Baier
, 1942

by Erwin Fabian

conte on paper

Professor Kurt Baier (1917–2010) was a moral philosopher. A German Jew, he fled to London from Vienna to escape Nazi persecution three months before his final legal examinations. Interned at the outbreak of war, Baier was deported to Australia and during his time at the Hay Internment camp came in contact with German Jewish refugees who had been working at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. At the camp he formed a strong friendship with Fred Gruen, who, like Baier, was admitted to Melbourne University in 1941. Having completed his PhD at Oxford in 1952, Baier returned to Australia and joined the Philosophy Department at the Canberra University College (now the Australian National University). His first book The Moral Point of View was published in 1955. In 1961 he left for the USA and a position with the University of Pittsburgh’s Philosophy Department, of which he eventually became Professor Emeritus.

Sculptor and designer Erwin Fabian, the son of artist Max Fabian, was born in Berlin and in 1938 fled Germany for London. Like Baier and Gruen, Fabian was deported to Australia as an enemy alien and detained at Hay Internment Camp, where this work and the adjacent portrait of Gruen were made.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2002
Accession number: 2002.69