Documenting History Through Art

Oct 11, 2017

Like everyone, I was caught off guard and stunned by the mass death and injury that occurred recently in Las Vegas. This shocking event, along with the perils our American brothers and sisters are facing in Puerto Rico made it seem that any commentary I might make about art feel forced and weak.

But I will say that artists and our art mark time. The horrors that occur in life, through time, inevitably show themselves in two- and three-dimensional art forms.

These are works that nobody would live with. The best examples end up in institutions or spaces where viewers stand in quiet observance while they reflect, respect, and remember.

Eric Fischl’s 9/11 statement “Tumbling Woman,” Picasso’s “Guernica”—a Spanish Village destroyed by Nazi aerial bombardment-- and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, are only three of the works that remind us of the terrible toll paid in human blood and unthinkable loss.

The documentation of history through art will continue as sure as the human race will walk the earth. Few reminders of these grave events are as powerful as the art that represents them. Few reminders are as capable of reconstituting the raw emotion and despair these events brought. They also remind us of the awful and sure truth: “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

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