“Through Soviet Jewish Eyes” Reflects Six Decades of Work by Soviet Photojournalists
HOUSTON, TX (April 4, 2013) – Although World War II is one of the most documented conflicts of the 20th century, western audiences have had little exposure to Soviet photographic images.
 “Grief” taken in Kerch, Crimea in January 1942 is one of several photos by Soviet photojournalists. The photo is on loan from Teresa and Paul Harbaugh, courtesy of the CU Art Museum. © Estate of Dmitrii Baltermants

Opening April 25, 2013 at Holocaust Museum Houston, the exhibition “Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust” features 58 photographs revealing the war as presented through the lens of the most important Soviet photojournalists.

The exhibition remains on view through Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 in the Museum’s Central Gallery.

Printed over six decades, the collection highlights works by Evgenii Khaldei, Georgii Zelma and Dmitrii Baltermants, among others, from the dawn of the Soviet era and throughout the Great Patriotic War, also known as the war’s Eastern Front. A large number of Soviet photojournalists were Jewish, and the exhibition explores aspects of what this religious and cultural identity might have meant when confronting war and Nazi persecution through Soviet and Jewish eyes. Charged by the Stalinist state to tell the visual story, these artists were emotionally and intellectually connected to recording the Holocaust. With their compelling war photography, they were the first to document the liberation of Nazi sites of atrocity – three years before others chronicled the liberation of concentration camps in Germany.

The exhibition encompasses art, culture and aesthetics with photographs spanning the Nazi-Soviet war, from June 22, 1941 until V-Day on May 9, 1945. The opening section contextualizes the wartime images within the Constructivist and Socialist Realist tradition of Soviet photography from the 1920s and 1930s.

On loan to Holocaust Museum Houston by the CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, the exhibition was curated by David Shneer, director of the Program in Jewish Studies and professor of history at the University of Colorado and Lisa Tamiris Becker, director of the University of New Mexico Art Museum.

Inspired by Shneer’s critically acclaimed book of the same title and National Jewish Book Award finalist, “Through Soviet Jewish Eyes” highlights the central challenge to avant-garde aesthetics and to “art” itself that was posed by the war and by Soviet culture of the time.

Featured photographs include several currently housed in private collections that have never before been displayed to the public. Ranging from large-scale dramatic prints to intimate-scaled vintage prints, the exhibition calls attention to the afterlife of the photographs and the continued interest of contemporary society and the art world in viewing them.

The public is invited to a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, 2013. Admission is free, but advance registration is required for the reception. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online.

The exhibit is generously underwritten by SWE Homes; Elizabeth and Alan Stein; Friends of Inna and Scott Wizig; the Museum’s Corporate Chairman members: Baker Botts LLP, Frost, Halliburton Charitable Foundation, HEB, Marathon Oil Corporation and the Morgan Family Foundation; and Next Door Painting and is presented with special thanks to United Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
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