with Jewish Pass
Oil on Canvas 1933
1940 Felix Nussbaum created this
oil painting titled Selbstbildnis
mit Judenpaß (Self-Portrait with Jewish Pass).
Here the artist is cornered and made to present
his documents that register him a Jew. He also wears
the yellow star the Nazis required all Jews to display
on their garments.
gloomy grey sky, bare tree, and oppressive buildings
heighten the despair in this work. The artist's
angst filled glare puts the viewer in the uncomfortable
position of being the unseen Nazi official demanding
to see the pass. Nussbaum draws us into the terror
of the moment, while at the same time forcing us
to examine our own role in oppressing others.
painting is made even more chilling when one considers
that not long after it was painted the artist meet
his end in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.