The Museum’s exhibition Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony displays art produced by Jews and other victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Each artwork in this exhibition reasserts the artist’s humanity and individuality, qualities too often obscured by iconic Holocaust photographs that were taken by the Nazis or their collaborators. We will highlight artwork from this exhibition in a series of blog posts.
The artwork below, Lodz Ghetto Bridge, was made by Vincent Brauner, c. 1940 – 1943. The original is 10 3/4 inches x 14 7/8 inches, made with pen and ink, watercolor, and conté on paper adhered to wood.
Brauner juxtaposes the crowded, harsh conditions of the Lodz Ghetto with the freedom and unconstrained space of the world outside. The street car and civilian with a small wagon travel uninhibited, the luxury of space theirs for the taking. In contrast, the Lodz Ghetto prisoner on the bottom left strains to pull a cart, while a thicket of Jewish prisoners cross over a bridge that connects parts of the Ghetto while cutting it off from the world outside. While the individual Jews are indistinguishable from one another, the lone soldier standing guard beneath the bridge has his gun, helmet, and uniform coat on clear display.
A church features prominently to the left, notable because many synagogues in Lodz were destroyed by the Nazis after the German invasion.
Born with the first name Yitzhok, Brauner(1887–1944) went by Vincent as an homage to Vincent van Gogh. He was a member of the Jewish avant-garde art group Yung-yidish (active in Lodz, Poland from 1918 -1921) and studied painting in Krakow, Warsaw, and Berlin before World War II. He was deported from the Lodz Ghetto to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1944.