The Survivor of Auschwitz Who Painted a Forgotten Genocide

By Jason Farago
Ceija Stojka, “Untitled/Vienna - Auschwitz.”Credit...Ceija Stojka/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Bildrecht, Vienna; Collection of Nuna & Hojda Stojka. Ceija Stojka International Fund, Vienna.
Immediately after the war, writers and philosophers maintained that the death camps defied representation; no art could ever do justice to their horrors, and even the concept of poetry after Auschwitz, in Theodor W. Adorno’s notorious phrase, had become “barbaric.” One is the self-taught Austrian artist Ceija Stojka (1933-2013), a member of the Roma minority (sometimes derogatorily called “Gypsies”), who turned the ordeals of the camps into an art of immense power. At 10, she was deported to Auschwitz, the first of three camps she would outlast. She slept on the pathway to the gas chambers, and hid among heaps of corpses; she survived by eating tree sap. [More]