8/6/10 12:26 AMThe Holocaust on a Whole New Scale - SFGatePage 1 of 2http://articles.sfgate.com/1996-05-14/entertainment/17774840_1_mein-kampf-nazis-and-victims-adolf-hitler
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The Holocaust on a Whole New Scale
May 14, 1996|By KENNETH BAKER, Chronicle Art Critic
The Holocaustended more than half a century ago, but itsshock to our moral imaginationis undiminished.Itdemands remembrance, but what form of expression isadequate to it? It is close to, if not beyond, the limits of what can or should be depicted. The representation of unspeakable acts in any medium can seem like an insultto their victims, survivors and deceased alike.These are problems the Holocaust has always presentedfor artists and writers. New York photographer David Le v inthal hastaken them on in work show ing on
both sides of the bay.'MEIN KAMPF'The Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley is presenting a large selection of Levinthal's pictures titled"Mein Kampf," after the diatribe Adolf Hitler dictated in 1924, his year in prison. A smaller group of images from Levinthal's Holocaust series is showing at the Modernism gallery in SanFrancisco. Although Levinthal makes large-format color Polaroids in very small editions, there is someoverlap between the two shows.Levinthal is known for confronting contemporary myths and popular obsessions, including the hypnoticpower of pictorial mass media, through photographs of figurines in dollhouse-scale settings.The series on view, made in 1994, was spurred by Levinthal's discovery in an Austrian toy store of miniature figures of Nazi troops and of Hitler, both war-era antiques and recent models that apparently are still being manufactured. These sinister toy soldiers were what Levinthal needed to refract theHolocaust through his own pictorial idiom.Born in 1949, Levinthal has known the Holocaust only as an apocalyptic reference point of family andcultural history.If Levinthal's Jewish background fated him to an artistic reckoning with the Holocaust, perhaps his work has too. He has always probed the effects of image overdose on our vision of past and present realities.NAZIS AND VICTIMS
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