“… The testament of Vishniac is the visual counterpart of the tradition of mystically inspired Jewish culture, a historical cycle that ends in tragedy. The tales of Sholem Aleichem, the stories of lsaac Bashevis Singer, the philosophy and teaching of Hassidism collected by Martin Buber: these tell of… a whole world wiped out that can never be rebuilt. Vishniac,” notes Giuliana Scimé in Contemporary Photographers, “grasps this world in its last moments, photographs it, fixes it forever.”
A VANISHED WORLD, an exhibit of 47 of Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Eastern European Jewish life in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust, will have its Northern California premiere January 12-March 30,1986, at the Judah L. Magnes
Museum. Edward Steichen has called these works among “photography’s finest documents of a time and place.”
Sensing the oncoming Holocaust while living in Berlin, Vishniac traveled 5,000 miles across Eastern Europe between 1933 and 1939, photographing the doomed Jewish ghetto, shtetl, and village life so that posterity could know ”of the life that disappeared, of the life that is no more.” Often in personal danger, at times disguised to circumvent German restrictions on photography by Jews, Vishniac took 16,000 pictures-of which he managed to save 2,000 negatives. In these pictures the faces of the Jews of Eastern Europe, few of whom would survive the Nazi onslaught, live on.
Born in Russia in 1897, Vishniac is a world-renowned photographer, a scholar and professor of humanities, and, in the words of Cornell Capa of the International Center of Photography (ICP), “a passionate and compassionate observer of life.” This traveling exhibition of his work was organized by the ICP with a grant from the Thompson Medical Company, Inc. It is accompanied by a slide-tape narrated by Vishniac.
Sunday, January 12 , 1986, 2 p.m.
Judah L. Magnes Museum