Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz

Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz

by David Mickenberg
     
 

If cliché leads us to believe that art is made out of suffering, there are few circumstances in which the language of art could be more direct, more profound, or more moving than art made in the European concentration camps of World War II.

While Auschwitz itself has come to represent the evil that is often considered a paradigm and example of modern

Overview

If cliché leads us to believe that art is made out of suffering, there are few circumstances in which the language of art could be more direct, more profound, or more moving than art made in the European concentration camps of World War II.

While Auschwitz itself has come to represent the evil that is often considered a paradigm and example of modern barbarity, art and culture played significant roles there. In the extreme and physically threatening circumstances that would seem to thwart creativity, art functioned as a survival strategy, catharsis, documentation, and, at times, a means of psychological escape.
Auschwitz functions as a symbolic and historical focus for this exhibition and catalog. It serves as a thematic focal point and a common thread that touched so many victims of various nationalities and disparate backgrounds. While the exhibition presents art that was created at Auschwitz, as well as art produced at other sites, including Theresienstadt, Buchenwald, Gurs, and the Lódz Ghetto, all of the artists in The Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz were ultimately victims at Auschwitz.

The catalog includes reproductions of some 300 artworks; each tells a piece of an incredible history. Each remnant of these personal journeys and individual travails contributes to our understanding of the victims of the Holocaust, their experiences, the nature and function of the camps, the strategies of the perpetrators, as well as the will and need to create art.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"No other exhibition has examined in as many ways the kinds of art produced under such extreme conditions. . . . Here, at last, is an exhibition that brings together enough representative examples so we may see for the first time that the situation was as complex as any of us could imagine." —Chicago Tribune

"These artists drew to save their hope and dignity, even if sketching the truth onto paper risked their lives. . . . In the end, The Last Expression presents a bleak picture, but it's a picture that took courage and hope to draw, and it is one that should not be ignored."
Boston Globe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810115484
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Publication date:
02/28/2003
Edition description:
1
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

David Mickenberg is the Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. Mickenberg was director of the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University for 14 years. He is also curator of The Last Expression exhibit.

Corinne Granof is the Assistant Curator of the Block Museum at Northwestern University.

Peter Hayes is the Theodore Z. Weiss Professor of Holocaust Studies and specializes in the history of Germany in the 20th century, particularly the Nazi period. He is the author or editor of five books.

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