Jewish art under National Socialist rule

Due to the racial politics of National Socialism and the National Socialist persecution of the Jews (Holocaust), any artistic creation by a Jew was regarded as “Jewish” and thus as “foreign to the people” and “degenerate”. Artists lost their profession, their existence, their name and their honor. They had to emigrate and flee. Their works were dishonored, ostracized and destroyed. Many artists and Jews working in the art world were killed together with their family members in concentration camps and extermination camps. Some of them (including the Osnabrück painter F. Nussbaum ) vividly expressed their fate of discrimination, years of flight and ultimately hopelessness in their pictures.

During the forced labor in the concentration camps, some artists were forced to work in their profession in the service of the SS and the camp administration. In Theresienstadt z. For example, painters were forced to produce portraits, landscapes and copies of paintings as well as backdrops for propaganda purposes, while others in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp had to draw British and American banknotes to distribute counterfeit money. Anti-Semitic propaganda material was also produced in the concentration camps.

In this situation, a few artists managed to secretly move painting and drawing utensils aside and capture everyday life in the camp. The drawings by Fritta (actually Fritz Taussig, * 1909, † Auschwitz 1944), who headed the technical department of the Theresienstadt concentration camp, have been preserved, as well as some of those by Otto Ungar (* 1901, † 1945), Arnold Zadikow (* 1881, † 1944) and Leo Haas (* 1901, † 1983). The drawings of the imprisoned children and adolescents from Theresienstadt, who were able to make them under the guidance of the Bauhaus artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (* 1898, † 1944), have also become known. Jacob Lifchitz (* 1903, † 1944) and Esther Lurie (* 1913, † 1998) handed down depictions of ghetto life in Kovno (today Kaunas). Little of the art created in the camps was preserved, hidden and buried on the camp grounds. Most of it is now in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in the museum of the former Theresienstadt concentration camp and in the Jewish-Historical Institute in Warsaw. Works of art that were confiscated from cultural institutions of Jewish communities, including museums, in 1933-45 and ended up in the Gestapo collection depots, were mainly sent to the Bezalel Museum (now Israel Museum) in Jerusalem after 1945 due to the restitution laws.

Long before the end of the war, people outside of the countries occupied by Germany had known about the fate of the Jews, and numerous artists reacted, increasingly in the first half of the 1940s, artistically, among other things. Abraham Ritter (* 1895, † 1978), William Gropper (* 1897, † 1977), Jack Levine (* 1915, † 2010), as well as M. Rothko , Mané-Katz, M. Chagall and J. Lipchitz .

Jewish art after 1945

Fine arts: after 1945, countless artists of various nationalities have dealt with the incomprehensible aspects of the Nazi persecution of the Jews and the genocide of the Jews. Maryan S. Maryan (* 1927, † 1977), a Shoah survivor living in Poland, whose entire family was murdered in Auschwitz, created deeply disturbing images, populated by indefinable grimace-like beings, monstrous monsters and robot-like figures, brutes and beasts are. The Austrian A. Brauer processed the subject in the manner of Viennese fantastic realism, his compatriot Georg Chaimowicz (* 1929, † 2003) created graphics that are only scratches, disruptions on the paper, and the Austrian painter F. Hundertwasser commemorated the murdered in the spiral style he created. The American L. Golub referred to the events in his own figurative way, as did P. Guston in his later creative phase, G. Segal artistically translated the Shoah into three-dimensional groups of figures, and Judy Chicago (* 1939), who is rooted in feminist art. combined a large series of paintings with a selection of documentation on the Shoah. Art Spiegelman approached in a ruthless and shocking manner the genocide of the Jews with the help of a comic. At times obsessive, the American RB Kitaj , who lived in Great Britain for a long time, devoted himself to Jewish art with the creation of his own style, which he called “Diasporism”. The French photographer and installation artist C. Boltanski questions collective memory, who in his work addresses the act of forgetting and disappearing.

Architecture: The persecution and murder of European Jews was also reflected in architecture, including: the deconstructivist building of the Jewish Museum in Berlin (1992–99) by D. Libeskind shows. The range of memorial architecture is wide and has v. a. recently received new impulses (including the controversial memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin by P. Eisenman , 2000-04, opened in 2005).

According to bridgat, the art-historical question of whether Jewish art in the visual arts is the art created by Jews or that used by Jews for religious purposes, or the topic-specific representation of everything that could be described as “Jewish” in both individual and social considerations, particularly in Germany prevented the art-historical preoccupation with Jewish art and the so-called “Art after Auschwitz” (art after Auschwitz) for a long time. Responsible for this were, on the one hand, thematic reservations, and on the other hand, the general approach of less diversifying than integrating. Last but not least, there was also a scientific gap, because the beginnings of an art-historical discipline related to Jewish art were developed in Germany, but were destroyed in 1933. Rachel Wischnitzer, * 1885, † 1989, Columbia University, New York; Karl Schwarz, * 1885, † 1962, Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv). Research in this area could only be resumed in the second half of the 20th century. The authors of the post-war period mainly gave a general overview of Jewish art, thus building on their publications from those of the pre-war period. This was followed by numerous individual studies on the topics of synagogue, symbolism, applied arts, illustrated manuscripts, painting, etc. In the USA, not only the discipline of Jewish art, but also the subject of art history was established largely by art historians who were expelled from German universities in 1933 and had to emigrate (including Franz Landsberger, * 1883, † 1964; E. Panofsky).

Jewish art in Israel

In Israel, according to the Zionist program, Jewish art was and is a natural national concern. Since the second half of the 20th century, however, the connection to international art movements and the mastering of current artistic challenges have been and still is the focus of their development for Israeli artists in general (Israeli art).

Israel Arts