Abraham Manievich (American, b. Russia, 1881-1942)
Destruction of the Ghetto, Kiev, 1919
- Oil on canvas
- 70 5/8 x 72 1/8 in. (179.4 x 183.2 cm)
- The Jewish Museum, New York
- Purchase: Gift of Deana Bezark in memory of her husband Leslie Bezark, 1991-30
There is a great deal of ambiguity in the scene. Where are the people? In hiding? Have they died or have they escaped to the West? The goat in the foreground is the only living thing visible. Perhaps he is picking over the scraps of the abandoned town. Maybe he represents the sole witness to the horrifying pogrom. Or does he symbolize a sacrifice—the "scapegoat" of ancient times? Even the brighter colors in the distant background are ambiguous. Do they depict a fire raging across the landscape or the dawning of a new, better day?
Abraham Manievich was born in 1881 in Mstislavl, Belorussia. He studied at the Imperial Art School in Kiev (1903–1905) and then at the Academy in Munich (1905–1907). Manievich is known primarily as a landscape painter. His subjects include the small wooden houses of the Ukrainian and Lithuanian countryside, as well as street scenes of Moscow and Kiev. He is especially known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive use of color.
Manievich traveled through Europe and settled for a few years in Moscow before returning to Kiev in 1917 to become a professor at the Ukraine Academy of Arts. Rising antisemitism led him to incorporate Jewish themes increasingly into his work. In 1919, during the civil war in the Ukraine, Manievich’s son was killed in a pogrom; Manievich responded to this tragedy with the painting Destruction of the Ghetto, Kiev. Three years later, Manievich immigrated to New York, where he continued his successful painting career. He died in the Bronx in 1942.