Felix Nussbaum: A Painter of the Holocaust for Our Times

By Pat Lipsky
‘Self-Portrait in a Shroud (Group Portrait),’ 1942, oil on canvas (Berlinische Galerie – Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
A couple of weeks ago I visited the Neue Galerie to see The Self-Portrait (Ended June 2019). I knew there were some small etched self-portraits by Rembrandt from 1629-30 and, another favorite, the marvelous Max Beckmann “Self-Portrait with a Horn.” After going through the exhibition, on its final wall I saw them—three self-portraits by Felix Nussbaum. Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading Timothy Snyder’s important and disturbing book, Black Earth. Looking at Nussbaum’s three self-portraits the other day I saw the horror—dispossession and depersonalization leading to mass murder—that I’d just been reading about. [More]