February 11 – May 29, 2016.

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered.  San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum.
736 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. 415.655.7800. info@thecjm.org

I went to the opening of Roman Vishniac’s exhibit yesterday.  Highly recommended!  It is a must see.  We are honored that the International Center of Photography (N.Y.) and the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum has brought this to the Bay Area. The exhibit has traveled to Warsaw, Amsterdam and Paris.  We are the last stop on its 3 year journey.

Adults: $12.  Seniors: $10.  Thursdays after 5:00 p.m. only costs $5.  Also, there is a free tour of the exhibit, if you are interested. East access by Bart.  Short walk from Powell Station.

In 1935, as anti-Semitism was growing in Germany, Roman Vishniac, a Russian/German Jew,  was commissioned by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Central Europe to photograph Jewish communities in Eastern Europe as part of a fund-raising drive to help support poor Jewish communities. Vishniac developed and printed these pictures in his dark room in his Berlin apartment. Further trips to Eastern Europe were undertaken between 1935 and 1938, again at the request of the JDC. Vishniac used both a Leica and a Rolleiflex camera in his photography. (Wikipedia)

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco presents Roman Vishniac Rediscovered, an exhibition that reveals the full range of Vishniac’s radically diverse body of work—much of it only recently discovered. Drawn from the extensive Roman Vishniac Archive at the International Center of Photography (ICP), New York City, Roman Vishniac Rediscovered presents newly discovered vintage prints, film footage, personal correspondence, and exhibition prints made from recently digitized negatives for a comprehensive reappraisal of the photographer’s output. Nearly 400 objects, including photographs, negatives, books, journals, and ephemera—many of them never seen before this exhibition premiered at the ICP in 2013—reveal a compositional acuity, inventiveness, and surprising stylistic range that solidifies Vishniac’s place among the twentieth century’s most accomplished photographers, and repositions his iconic photographs of eastern European Jewry within a broader tradition of social documentary photography.” (The Contemporary Jewish Museum)


Roman Vishniac (1897-1990). CHEDER BOYS. 1937, printed in 1943. 13 3/4 by 11 7/8 in.
Roman Vishniac. Untitled [Jewish schoolchildren, Mukacevo]. c. 1935-38. Courtesy of International Center of Photography.
Roman Vishniac. Grandfather and Granddaughter – Warsaw. 1935-38? 10 15/16 x 13 3/8 in.

“What does the granddaughter tell her grandfather? According to the rules, a Jewish girl cannot get regular employment. She must arrive at the employment office before 8 a.m. and wait. The non-Jewish girls are sent to work as soon as a phone call is received. If after 2 p.m. a call comes in and no non-Jewish girl is available, the Jewish girl might get a job. Today was an “empty” day. At home, her parents are in poor spirits. Her father has a severe hernia from carrying heavy loads, and her mother has a weak heart. The grandfather listens, always silent – what can he say? After the war, I heard about this family from a survivor. The grandfather died when he was seized by the Nazis, the granddaughter was shipped to a camp where she was raped and later gassed. An ordinary story. But this picture and its story will remain when I am gone.”
(Vishniac, Roman, A Vanished World / Roman Vishniac; with a foreword by Elie Wiesel, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983, plate 65.)