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The Holocaust

George Segal (American, 1924-2000)

The Holocaust, 1982

  • Plaster, wood, and wire
  • Dimensions variable
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Dorot Foundation Gift, 1985-176a-l
  • Art © The George and Helen Segal Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Not on view

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The Holocaust

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The Holocaust

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CLOSE LOOKING / VISUAL ANALYSIS:

  • What is the first thing you notice when you look at this installation?

  • What is your emotional response? What does it make you think of?

  • What materials do you think the artist used to create this work?

  • What do you notice about the standing figure? Why do you think the artist included it? What do you think this figure would say if it could talk?

  • How do you think it would be different to view this work in person? How would effect of the work be different? How would it feel to view the work from a different angle, for example, from behind the barbed wire looking out?

  • Why do you think the artist left the figures unpainted? How would the effect of the work be different if Segal had painted them?




FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:

After giving students ample opportunity to examine this installation, lead them in a discussion of related topics and themes:

Read this quote by George Segal:

"In any culture, if a human being dies, there's an elaborate, orderly ritual that accompanies the burial. The body is laid out in a straight line. Hands are crossed. There's a burial case and a prescribed, almost immoveable succession of events that involve the expression of grief of the family, the expression of love, the expression of the religious beliefs in whatever civilization. It's a prescribed order, and if a modern state turns that order topsy-turvy and introduces this kind of chaos, it is an unthinkable obscenity."

  • How does Segal's work challenge the Nazi disregard for human life?

  • This installation at The Jewish Museum was a study for Segal's completed work cast in bronze, which is on view in Lincoln Park, San Francisco. Do you think this work would be more powerful or effective indoors in a museum or outdoors in a public setting? Why?

  • Do you think Segal presents an accurate portrayal of life in the concentration camps? Do you think that was his goal? Why or why not? What do you think were the goals of his work?




RESEARCH TOPICS / CONTENT CONNECTIONS:

  • Concentration Camps
  • Holocaust Memorials
  • War Memorials
  • Installation Art