Archive for May 10th, 2011

Si Lewen

Yesterday in the studio, I had a documentary playing on ther television.  It was The Ritchie Boys which tells the story of a group German speaking draftees, primarily  immigrants from Europe, during World War II who were trained in psychological warfare and interrogation at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.  Using their language skills and their knowledge of the German culture, they proved invaluable to the Allied war effort.  Their story is told in often humorous and compelling anecdotes by a  members of the group in the film, many of whom went on to great prominence in a variety of fields.

Image From "The Parade"

One member who caught my eye was Si Lewen, shown here, who went back to the world of art after the war and is shown in the film in his studio.  In the background as he spoke, there were racks filled with a multitude of canvasses, all neatly placed and stored.  It seemed a prodigious amount of work and it made me want to know more about his work. I looked him up and was pleasntly surprised by his internet presence.  Still actively painting at age 92, his site is large and filled with his striking works as well as many of his writings, including an entire memoir.   Also shown there, is his book, The Parade, which tells in 55 impactful images  how war is constantly recurring , moving from celebratory martial parades to the horrific death marches of war. It’s a powerful piece of work that drew praise from Albert Einstein in 1950, when he said of Lewen,” Our time needs you and your work.”

There is so much to be said about Mr. Lewen and his work, so many things that I personally identify with,  that I am leaving most of it to his own website which I heartily encourage you to visit.  I could write on and on but his words and images speak so much more eloquently of his life and spirit.  It is truly a treasure trove, a  fascinating document of a most interesting life, one scarred by the horrors of war and rejuvenated by the power of art.  I feel really fortunate to have stumbled across his work.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: