Artist and art historian Fritz Solomonski was born into a Jewish family in 1899 in Germany. He studied in Berlin, gaining a doctorate on German Expressionism in Berlin, and training as a painter under Eugen Spiro and Willy Jaeckel. Solomonski fled Germany for England in the 1930s, settling in London. In 1940-41 he was interned in the so-called ‘Artists’ camp’, Hutchinson, on the Isle of Man, where he signed the famous ‘Art Cannot Live Behind Barbed Wire’ letter, published in the New Statesman and Nation in August 1940, pleading for the release of artist internees. German émigré art historian and fellow internee, Klaus Hinrichsen (1912-2004), noted that Solomonski, who had been a cantor in his local synagogue, was ‘a much better singer than artist’ but could ‘draw almost anything’.

In January 1944, Solomonski became the first salaried secretary and curator at the Ben Uri Art Society. An exhibition of his works was held at the Kensington Art Gallery in 1949 but his career stalled in England, despite attempts by his patron, Sir Samuel Courtauld, to persuade the Tate to acquire his work, and he immigrated to the USA in 1954, also staying in Cuba in the late 1950s when he exhibited at the National Gallery in Havana. He died in New Hampshire, USA in 1980. Correspondence in German between Solomonski and his mother (who escaped to Palestine), is held in the Ben Uri archives.