Simon Karczmar, Polish (1903 - 1982)

Simon Karczmar

Born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1903, Simon Karczmar studied art in Paris, where he lived for twenty years. Although he left France for Israel in 1962, most of his work evokes his experiences in Eastern Europe.

Immigrated to Israel 1962 and joined Artists' Quarter in Safed.
Represented Israel at exhibitions in Mexico, Canada, U.S.A. and Europe.

In this series of images known collectively as Shtetl, Karczmar draws inspiration from his childhood memories of the vacations he spent at his grandfather's house in Lithuania. The word shtetl is Yiddish for little town and refers to the villages with significant Jewish populations that could once be found throughout Eastern Europe.

The nostalgia of Karczmar's renderings contrasts with the darker views of life for Jews revealed in the photographs by Vishniac and drawings of Lilien. While the photographs in The Vanished World seem to emphasize the deprivation experienced by Jews in the years leading up to World War II, Karczmar depicts similar scenes yet focuses on the sense of community and tradition. His works weep with a classic Eastern European naivety shrouded in dark sad colors.

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