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Warsaw

Michael David (American, b. 1954)

Warsaw, 1980

  • Pigment and wax on Masonite
  • 63 x 63 in. (160 x 160 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Lenore B. Lippert and Barbara E. Lippert in memory of Michael Myron Lippert, 1986-92

On view

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Warsaw

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Warsaw

CLOSE LOOKING / VISUAL ANALYSIS:

  • What are the first words that come to mind when you look at this artwork?

  • What associations do you have with this symbol?

  • How does the color affect your response?

  • Describe the surface of the piece. What do you think the texture feels like?

  • The artist used a technique called encaustic that combines pigments and hot wax to create the thick, molten surface texture. What is your response to this textural effect?




FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:

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

  • Before World War II, Warsaw--the Polish city this work refers to--was home to more than 350,000 Jews. The city's Jewish population was second in size only to New York City. Warsaw became the site of Europe's largest Jewish ghetto during World War II. When Soviet troops liberated the city in January 1945, only about 11,500 Jewish survivors remained. How does the title of the piece influence your response?

  • The six-pointed star is a Jewish symbol. During the Holocaust, however, the Nazis forced Jews to wear yellow six-pointed stars on their clothing to identify them as outsiders. Do you think the artist is presenting the star as a positive or a negative symbol? Can it be both? How can someone turn a negative symbol into something positive or vice versa?

  • How do you think the Jews felt about being forced to wear the star? How would you feel?

  • What symbols have meaning for you? What makes them powerful?




RESEARCH TOPICS / CONTENT CONNECTIONS:

  • Nazi Racial Policies
  • Symbols
  • Abstract Art
  • Encaustic Technique