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Depiction and Interpretation: The influence of the Holocaust on the visual arts (Holocaust Series) [Hardcover]

Robert Amend
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 15, 1993 0080406564 978-0080406565 1st
The influence of the holocaust on literature and philosophy has long been accepted and studied while its influence on the visual arts has been paid scant attention. Studies so far published concentrate on such aspects as art produced in the camps or by former camp inmates and have rarely attempted to define the extent to which the Holocaust, as a major historical event, influenced Western art as a whole.

The author's unique study shows how different groups of artists with varying purposes set out to answer the question, 'How does one deal with the Holocaust in art?' Among the many artists discussed and illustrated are Picasso, Chagall, Grosz, Kiefer, Matta, Steinhardt, Tumarkin, Rothko, Fautrier, Grundig, Beckmann and Kitaj.

Editorial Reviews


Joseph Croiteru
Ziva Amishai-Maisels' book Depiction and Interpretation: the influence of the Holocaust on the visual arts is an exceptional and pioneering study in its field. Its publication is an event which extends beyond professional-academic boundaries. It is the fruit of a comprehensive and unprecedented research project which demanded broad knowledge, the strength to persevere, and analytic ability....

Aside from its scientific achievement, the book is also an impressive personal confrontation with the subject.

Anyone who analyses pictures of the Holocaust faces an infinite amount of problems which involve a constant swing between revulsion, emotional participation, and an identification with oppressive fates on the one hand, and the necessity to examine the works in an intelligent and aware manner in order to expose the motivations and methods of the artists on the other. Amishai-Maisels has succeeded in finding the correct balance between empathy and rational analysis....
Ha'aretz, Book Review Supplement [Hebrew]
Professor Moshe Davis
Ziva Amishai-Maisels' magnum opus is a monument of artistic conception, learning and design. It is sculptured scholarship ... unique in contemporary Jewish historiography.

Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich
a most moving and indeed shattering monument to an event that can and should never be forgotten.

Genya Markon, Director of Photo Archives, US Holocaust Memorial Museum
The scope of the research is monumental, and, for anyone interested in the arts it is a must!

Ruthie Director
It is hard to relate to this book as to just another research book on art. 567 pages, of which about 150 pages are footnotes, 650 pictures, of which 100 are in color, a research of 20 years, actually a project of a lifetime, a monument, and all about the Holocaust and art... Only gradually can one discipline oneself into attentive reading and discover that the writing is actually studious-formalist and that the analysis of the artworks is done according to the known criteria of technique, iconography, sources of influence and relevant biographical details about the artist. Only at the end can one lift one's head and try to crystalize an overall view of the book, which touches on what has almost never been dealt with until now: the influence of the Holocaust on the plastic arts...a gigantic inventory of artists, influences, subjects and symbols, a kind of encyclopedia... Mapping out the facts and spreading them before us... The book takes upon itself to be the founding archive of art for which the Holocaust is the starting point...this book is one of the few places where it can be found.
Ma'ariv (Hebrew)
Jo Milgrom, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.
Professor Amishai-Maisels asks several questions. How does one turn the diabolic murder of six million into art? How does one achieve the distance necessary to produce a work of art but remain sufficiently involved to make an emotional impact on the viewer? How does one combine the artist's pleasure in the act of creation with the horrific subject matter that is the source of creation? And finally, how does one guard against the spectator's being struck primarily by a work's beauty when the subject is an atrocity? This book is both a preparation and a follow-up for visiting the various Holocaust museums that have sprung up throughout the remembering world... This book is a monumental work, a sad, beautiful and powerful gift to us at the close of this century. It is essential reading for art historians, for Jews and for the morally and aesthetically concerned. The author keeps her sane objectivity, allowing us the freedom to respond to the final post-Holocaust question, what it means to be human, not just Jewish, after such a close look at both the depravity and redeeming compassion of human behavior.
...The investigation is carried out with exemplary application.
Extrait de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts
Meir Ronnen
The scope and sheer weight of the author's massive presentation in this hefty volume is truly awesome, organized with convincing logic...this is an art-historical-Jewish experience book, one that will no doubt prove invaluable to art history students.
The Jerusalem Post Magazine
J. Weidman
Amishai-Maisel's book , however, is the first to so comprehensively attempt to deal with this essentially overwhelming and universally sobering subject. The result is approachable and scholarly. Furthermore, the book is well produced... A very important and management study of a daunting subject. Recommendations for general and academic readers.
Research on this massive and (in all senses) weighty tone started a full 20 years ago. The result is a book that cannot fail to impress by virtue of its scope and scholarly details, as well as the hard-won dispassionateness of the authorial voice...a pioneering volume that should occupy a central place on any thinking person's bookshelf.
Art Monthly
Monica Bohm-Duchen.
It is only recently that the art produced in response to the Holocause since the Second World War has begun to receive the critical attention it deserves - and the book that does the most to redress the situation is undoubtedly Professor Amishai-Maisels' massive and (in all senses) weighty tome)...a pioneering volume of considerable significance.
Jewish Book News and Reviews
...the book cannot fail to impress by virtue of its scope and scholarly detail...a pioneering volume of considerable significance.
The Jewish Quarterly
I don't think you need to reference the magazine and publication date after, unless that's the "official" procedure...

Product Details

  • Series: Holocaust Series
  • Hardcover: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1st edition (January 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0080406564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0080406565
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,105,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about holocaust and art December 2, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The immense work of well known art historian is very good interpretation of art (mainly painting and less sculpture) during the holocaust and after it.
It is very important that it includes some less known but very important painters like Zoran Music. He was witness of the Soča front during the World war I and in Dachau during the Second world war. His work needs to be in any important museum of modern art.
Artist is even going beyond holocaust to immortalize victims of any war at any time and place.
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