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Vishniac Drawings

Lodz, Poland 1935

Based on Roman Vishniac’s photograph with the caption: The old woman’s husband had been killed in a pogrom twenty years before. She spoke of her daughter with pride. Lodz, 1935

Warsaw, Poland 1938

Piece 2 based on Roman Vishniac’s photograph with the caption: Jewish Quarter. Warsaw, 1938 

Kathy Treleani is a Pittsburgh-based artist who is known for her naturalistic pencil drawings. These works, based on the photographs of Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), capture scenes of Jewish life in Poland before the war. These two pieces show the diversity of Jewish life in Poland, including a younger man and woman who appear to be assimilated into Western culture and an older man and woman with more traditional clothing.

From 1935-1938, Vishniac covertly photographed Jewish communities in central and eastern Europe. He produced some of the most iconic images of Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust, documenting a world that would soon be destroyed. A collection of these photographs was published in a collection entitled A Vanished World in 1977.

“He loves them all,” wrote Elie Wiesel in the foreword to A Vanished World, “the rabbis and their pupils, the peddlers and their customers, the beggars and the cantors, the sad old men and the smiling young ones. He loves them because the world they live in did not, and because death has already marked them for its own—death and oblivion as well.”