Since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and recognition of the Holocaust as a watershed event of the twentieth century, if not in Western Civilization itself, the capacity of art to represent this event adequately has been questioned. As it analyzes a cross section of Holocaust art within the context of art history, Absence / Presence addresses the discussion head on and explores the interchange between media and horror. The book’s contributors include case studies from a broad spectrum of artists in North America, Europe, and Israel to examine some of the more dominant themes in these artists’ work. In addition to standard readings of Holocaust art, the essays help illuminate the issues of eugenics; the importance of art for Hitler and the Nazis; the immense pilfering of art that occurred during World War II; and the length and degree of the destruction of European Jewry, which forced artists to reinvent their work through their own fate.
This selection of essays also provides alternative views to more typical readings on the Holocaust, specifically,
to the story of the Shoah as a relevant art subject, and to those “who ha[ve] a right to create art about the
Holocaust.” These issues were the subject of an intense international debate based on an exhibition at New
York’s Jewish Museum titled Mirroring Evil. The retrospective brought to art a series of contemporary perspectives that represented both the outer edges as well as mainstream postmodern thinking concerning representations of the Holocaust. This book, which covers the art from the late I 980s through 2002, includes the work of an array of scholars, curators, and artists from many co11nlries. It will be of great interest to art historians, Jewish scholars, and anyone interested in learning more about the art and artists of the Holocaust.
"Picturing Death: Better This than Silence," Robert Poor
"Probing the Limits of the Politics of Representation," Jeremy Varon
"After Auschwitz: Art and the Holocaust Six Decades Later," Monica Bohm-Duchen
"Jewish Artists in New York: The 1940s," Matthew Baigell
"From the Sublime to the Abject: Art and the Holocaust Six Decades Later," Andrew Weinstein
"R.B. Kitaj's 'Good Bad' Diasporism and the Body in American Jewish Postmodern Art," Sander Gilman
"Bak's Variations on a Theme by Bak," Lawrence Langer
"Toward a Post-Holocaust Theology in Art: The Search for the Absent and Present God," Stephen Feinstein
"How to Remember," Nancy Weston
"Disaster Art: A Plea Against the Peripheral Stuff," Pier Marton
"Conversations with Rzeszow: An Artist's Journey," Joyce Lyon
"Haunting the Empty Place," Ziva Amishai-Maisels
Stephen C. Feinstein is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and now serves as permanent director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota. He has been the curator for six museum exhibitions about Holocaust art, has edited one book, and has written six art catalogs.
6 x 9, 392 pages, 70 black and white illustrations