A strikingly original exploration of the profound impact of World War II on how we understand the art that survived it
By the end of World War II an estimated one million artworks and 2.5 million books had been seized from their owners by Nazi forces; many were destroyed. The artworks and cultural artifacts that survived have traumatic, layered histories. This book traces the biographies of these objects―including paintings, sculpture, and Judaica―their rescue in the aftermath of the war, and their afterlives in museums and private collections and in our cultural understanding. In examining how this history affects the way we view these works, scholars discuss the moral and aesthetic implications of maintaining the association between the works and their place within the brutality of the Holocaust―or, conversely, the implications of ignoring this history.
Afterlives offers a thought-provoking investigation of the unique ability of art and artifacts to bear witness to historical events. With rarely seen archival photographs and with contributions by the contemporary artists Maria Eichhorn, Hadar Gad, Dor Guez, and Lisa Oppenheim, this catalogue illuminates the study of a difficult and still-urgent subject, with many parallels to today’s crises of art in war.
About the Author
Darsie Alexander is the Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator and Sam Sackeroff is the Lerman-Neubauer Assistant Curator at the Jewish Museum, New York.