J.D. Kirszenbaum 1900-1954

The Lost Generation

Opening: July 12, 2013

Exhibition Curator: Dr. Caroline Goldberg Igra

Exhibition Designer: Museum of Art, Ein Harod

J.D. Kirszenbaum 1900-1954 The Lost Generation


Jechezkiel David Kirszenbaum (1900-1954) represents a generation of Jewish artists who, faced with an increasingly hostile and repressive political environment and a dearth of institutions capable of stimulating their artistic development, were compelled to leave their native Eastern Europe. Those artists wandered around Europe between the two World Wars, some of them gained recognition and presented their works in exhibitions and Museums. Their blossoming came to an end with the Nazi regime that not only persecuted the Jewish artists but also destroyed many of their works. After the war many of them were forgotten and only a small part of their work remained. J.D. Kirszenbaum was one of those artists.


Jechezkiel Kirszenbaum in his Paris studio in front of his painting St Jean celebration in Sao Paulo, c. 1950, Family Collection

The exhibition J.D. Kirszenbaum 1900-1954, The Lost Generation displayed at the Art Museum in Ein Harod and now at Beit Hatfutsot, is a tribute to a very important artist and his art. The exhibition, offers a profound visual record of one individual’s effort to survive and even thrive under adverse conditions. Kirszenbaum’s work encompasses the avant-garde artistic development in both Berlin and Paris during the 1930s, the height of displacement and persecution under the Nazi Regime, and the period of recovery that followed. Taken as a whole, his artistic career explores the scope of emotional responses, from celebration to despair, humiliation to hope, which represent that generation of Eastern Europeans swallowed by Nazi terror.


San Jean Festival, Sao Paulo, 1952, oil on canvas, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain

Kirszenbaum’s peregrinations – from his native Staszow to the Weimar, Berlin and to Paris, from southern France to Brazil and Morocco – exposed him to the most avant-garde artistic developments in Western Europe during a period of great unrest. His oeuvre illustrates his attempt to simultaneously escape from, and memorialize, the life he left behind in the shtetl; including imagery of local folklore mixed with testimony to deportation and despair. Exceeding the boundaries of reality upon which it was based, Kirszenbaum’s oeuvre captures the magic of the human spirit that rose from the ruins of the Shoah and accordingly, functions as an expressive last sigh, or expiration; a eulogy to loss.


There is no place for Jews in our world, 1945, oil on canvas, Family Collection

The reconstruction of Kirszenbaum’s career was complicated because of the total destruction of the artist’s studio, and all those works housed therein, during the war. Kirszenbaum’s return to life was greatly assisted by his relationship with Alix de Rothschild. She understood his artistic gifts, welcomed him into her family and supported him both spiritually and financially, encouraging his return to teaching and painting.

The successful mounting of the exhibition in the Museum of Art in Ein Harod and now at Beit Hatfutsot, is a tribute to the persistence and devotion of the artist’s great nephew who has traced, piece by piece, the remnants of this lost career. His conviction that his uncle’s contribution to the world of art was worth resurrecting, has resulted in the restoration of Kirszenbaum’s reputation to the annals of early Modern European art history.


Curator of the exhibition: Dr. Caroline Goldberg Igra

Chief Curator of Beit Hatfutsot: Dr. Orit Shaham-Gover

The exhibition was created by the Museum of Art, Ein Harod

Courtesy of: