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"When we were in the camp, people would often declare that this sort of thing could never happen again. When the war is over, they said, a better world will come into being and such horrors will never recur. . . . But then, as time went by, I saw the same sort of thing starting to happen again all over the world – in Vietnam, in the Gulag, in Latin America – everywhere. And I realized that what we had said in those days – that we would be the last people to experience such things – was not true: the truth is that we were not the last."

– Zoran Music


Zoran Music was born in 1909 in Gorizia, now in Italy, but then a town in the foothills of the Alps of Slovenia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the shifting frontier of East Central Europe, a geographic area pounded by war and ethnic conflict for most of the last century. Internationally acclaimed, Music’s works command a particular authority in the context of the vital mixing of cultures and of the fearsome ethnic conflicts that have shaped and reshaped national boundaries in the Balkans. Combined with his personal experience as a political prisoner in Dachau, the artist’s origins made him profoundly empathetic toward victims of global strife, leading to the series of works he called We are not the last (Nous ne sommes pas les derniers). This series reinterprets drawings of the dead that Music had originally made during his two-year internment at the concentration camp where he was sent after his arrest by the Gestapo for anti-German activity in Venice in 1944.

Music chose the Holocaust as his subject years later as a form of protest, or warning, in the wake of the political upheavals of the late 1960s. He evolved his figural-Expressionist style from landscapes he was creating in the immediate post-war period. His realistic depictions of the Dalmatian hills became freer and eventually darker and more sober renderings in which skeletons or skulls might be identified. Soon they were called burnt landscapes, and by 1970 the corpses he had witnessed became the all-consuming subjects of his work.

All the works in this exhibition, except for the Self-Portrait lent by Mrs. Leon Hess, are from the collection of Patti Cadby Birch. Music’s work has been exhibited widely in Europe since 1948. In New York it has been included in shows at Denise Cadé (2000) and Jan Krugier (1997) galleries. A major retrospective held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1995 secured Music’s reputation in Europe. Now, in the wake of the past decade’s ongoing conflicts in the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, and in Kosovo, Rwanda, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere We are not the last resounds anew as an awesome reminder of the human suffering that results from national, ethnic, and religious hatred.


Selected works from the exhibition


We Are Not the Last
(Nous ne sommes pas les derniers), 1970

Acrylic on canvas
32 x 26 inches (81 x 65 cm)
From the collection of Patti Cadby Birch



We Are Not the Last
(Nous ne sommes pas les derniers), 1970
Acrylic on canvas
44 x 57 inches (111.8 x 144.8 cm)
From the collection of Patti Cadby Birch



We Are Not the Last
(Nous ne sommes pas les derniers), 1987

Acrylic on canvas
21 x 31 inches (53 x 80 cm)
From the collection of Patti Cadby Birch



An Artist's Response to Evil: "We Are Not the Last" by Zoran Music is made possible through major support given in honor of Evelyn G. Clyman by the Eugene M. and Emily Grant Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller and the Richard J. and Joan G. Scheuer Family Foundation, Inc.


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