Inserting Hersh Fenster's Undzere Farpainikte Kinstler into Art History

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In 1951, Hersh Fenster published Undzere farpainikte kinstler (Our Martyred Artists), a 300-page yizkor book in Yiddish that commemorated 84 Jewish artists who had worked in France in the interwar period and perished in the Holocaust. Unlike most memorial books, which are collaborative group endeavors sponsored by landsmannschaften groups or communal organizations, this volume was researched, written, and published entirely by one individual. This article situates Fenster's initiative within the genre of the yizkor book and commemorative practices in the immediate postwar period more broadly. I argue that Fenster's volume is not only a memorial tombstone (matseyve) for the murdered artists, it also offers a "window" ( fenster) into an entire generation of Jewish artists lost to art history, illuminating their lives through not only portraits, critical reviews, and reproductions of works of art, but also through anecdotal information based on the recollections of friends and family who survived. Whereas Holocaust scholars have generally resisted using yizkor books as historical documents, this article suggests important ways in which Our Martyred Artists opens up new frames for art historical inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-135
Number of pages27
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Religious studies


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