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Maurico Lasansky was born in Argentina, came to the United States in 1943 with a Guggenheim Foundation grant and worked at Atelier 17 in New York with Stanley William Hayter, Adolph Gottlieb, Jackson Pollack, Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz and the Chilean-born surrealist Matta. He is known worldwide for "The Nazi Drawings," which examine the brutality of Nazi Germany. They are a powerful expression of the profound disgust and outrage the artist felt after viewing a US Military documentary showing the victims and aftermath of Nazi atrocities.
Dignity is not a symbol bestowed on man, nor does the word itself possess force. Man's dignity is a force and the only modus vivendi by which man and his history survive. When mid-twentieth-century Germany did not let man live and die with this right, man became an animal. No matter how technologically advanced or sophisticated, when a man negates this divine right he not only becomes self-destructive, he castrates his history and poisons our future.
Kaddish #6, 1976 Intaglio print
Kaddish #6 evokes the sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not murder," as well as the "6 million" Jewish victims, and possibly the six big German death camps established on Polish soil. In numerology, the "666" has often been associated with Satan. During the Middle Ages and even in Christian thought, Jews were associated with the Devil. Lasansky is perhaps suggesting that the choice of the victim was not an accident.
Right: Detail of Kaddish #6.
Kaddish #7, 1976 Intaglio print
Kaddish #7 shows a Jew wearing tephillen, prayer boxes wrapped around arms and head in Orthodox prayers. At the same time, a death's head comes over him, suggesting that being a Jew was a death warrant. The theatrical faces to the right and left suggest the atmosphere of the Weimar Republic where Nazi extremism, especially about the arts, was nurtured.
Kaddish #8, 1976 Intaglio print
Kaddish #8 suggests a Christ-like image below with a crown of thorns and pierced hand. Lasansky thus asks a critical question: why is the Holocaust a Christian problem? Mainly because Christ as a Jew with four Jewish grandparents would have been at Auschwitz had he been at Auschwitz had he lived in 1943.
Page updated 2013.