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"Art = Remembrance" ― Artists During the Holocaust

"How can it be? A man is about to die, and the artist in him makes an artwork on the canvas."
                                                                                                                  
(Alexander Bogen)

At first glance, Art and the Holocaust seem two contradictory concepts. They would seem to belong to diametrically opposed worlds with nothing to connect them.

The art exhibition newly opened at the GFH museum presents the wealth of artistic activity during the Holocaust period, and sheds light on the lives of the incarcerated. These artworks are historical documents, of whose significance as testimony the artists themselves were the first to be aware.

The exhibition includes 70 artworks made under conditions of extreme privation: in ghettos, hiding places, and camps, and by partisans fighting in the field.

The exhibition is divided into nine topics describing recurring motifs in the artists' creations during the Holocaust, among them: portraits, barbed wire fences, landscapes, hunger, and privacy in public. The common topics and their extensive treatments spring from the artists' finding themselves in a world foreign to any they had known before, a world run by brute force and absurdity, which moved them to describe and document its prominent characteristics – out of a sense of exigency and a strong belief in the importance of their testimonies. They were aware of the value of their visual documentation, that its universal language, crossing borders, would clearly transmit a picture of the world in which they lived.

All the artworks in this exhibition are part of the Art Collection of the Ghetto Fighters' House, some 3,000 works in all, half of which were made during the Holocaust. Among the artists represented here: Karl Schwesig, Esther Lurie, Isis Kischka, Malva Schaleck, and Ella Liebermann-Shiber.

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