Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Place of Darkness

Rattner was a leading exponent of the figurative expressionist style that emerged in American art during the 1940s. Taking cues from German Expressionism, this work’s heavy black outlines and crowded composition recall the work of artists such as Max Beckmann. Reports of the Holocaust began appearing in the United States in 1942 and 1943 (especially in the Yiddish press), and it is tempting to see this painting as an allegory of the genocide. Rattner, whose parents had fled Russian anti-Semitism in the 1890s, later referred to this painting’s “apocalyptic content” and described its grotesque figures as sinners.

Abraham Rattner
American, 1893‒1978
Place of Darkness
Oil on canvas
38 5/8 x 58 ½ in. (98.1 x 148.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, 58.42

Large image not available.