Izaac Celnikier, "Head of a Woman," c. 1957, ink on paper, inv. no. MŻIH A-1576/12, collection of the Jewish Historical Institute.

Minor Remnants from Solna Street. Isaac Celnikier and the Holocaust Experience

An exhibition devoted to the post-war, emerging at the intersection of Socialist Realism and Arsenal aesthetics, youthful works of Isaac Celnikier from 1946-1964, a great Jewish artist born in Warsaw, an alumni of Janusz Korczak’s Orphanage and a Holocaust survivor. This will be the first exhibition of his early works, in particular his numerous drawings (including illustrations to short stories by Abraham Rejzen and poems by Dovid Sfard), which are deposited in various institutions, have never been collected into one and shown to the public.
Shortly before leaving for France in 1957, Isaac Celnikier began working with the “Idisz Buch” publishing house. He created illustrations for Yiddish publications: Oysgeveylte verk (Selected Works) by Abraham Reisen, and Lider (Poems) by Dovid Sfard – publications so far untranslated into Polish. The illustrations, which Celnikier never saw in their final publication because they were published after he left Poland, contain coded content relating the viewer to the artist’s biography. The drawings thus create a parallel narrative to the text they illustrate. In his work, Celnikier projected his personal experience of the Holocaust onto Rejzen’s stories from earlier times, while he interpreted some stories as prefigurations of the Holocaust and gave expression to this in the illustrations he created.
The exhibition will attempt to read Celnikier’s biography in illustrations to Yiddish stories and poems. Curator will trace how these drawings, created before his departure from Poland, can be read as sketches for large-format paintings already created in France, and referring to a single original – images from the ghetto fixed in the artist’s memory.

The exhibition can be visited from November 9th, 2023 until June 2024, at the Jewish Historical Institute, Tłomackie 3/5 Street, Warsaw.

More information can be found here: https://www.jhi.pl/en/exhibitions/minor-remnants-from-solna-street-isaac-celnikier-and-the-holocaust-experience,392