A mission in art : recent Holocaust works in America / by Vivian Alpert Thompson.
This study examines the works and motivations of those artists for whom the Holocaust is either the main theme or artistic influence. It suggests that the mission to bear witness, often described as a characteristic of survivors themselves, extends beyond those who were actually victims to others who have emphasized with the victims, and to succeeding generations. The study examines the works of both survivors and their children as well as the works of empathizers. The art of survivors and empathizers evidences several characteristics: (1) the desire for the art to be accurate, (2) the lack of complete catharsis involved in the creation of the art works and (3) the need for viewers. Although the art of children of survivors does not wholly evidence these characteristics, the groups formed of children of survivors and their stated purposes suggest that the need to bear witness also exists among the next generation. The desire for accuracy is engendered by the conviction that history must be recorded as it actually happened and also because many artists believe that the facts are far more stunning than anything that an artist might invent. The emphasis on accuracy is related to the message of the art--the plea for remembrance of the past--and as a warning to the future. Creating art works about the Holocaust is not completely cathartic and is extended because the conditions of hatred and intolerance about which the art warns still exist. The intense need to have their works seen is expressed by many artists and is part of the message of the art. If a message is transmitted, it must be received; hence, viewers are crucial to these works. The only hope for the message of the artists to be heeded is if the art is seen. It is a hope that the viewer will become aware of the past and vigilant for the future. The mission of the art has not ended with the art of a few survivors, but has extended, and will continue to extend, to other generations.
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