War and Remembrance: Erwing Eisch's Night of the Crystal Death Portfolio

February 24, 2012 - May 2, 2012
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War and Remembrance: Erwing Eisch's Night of the Crystal Death Portfolio


In 1992 Erwin Eisch (b. 1927) created a series of works in response to the words “crystal night” for the American Interfaith Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The words, which are a reference to Kristallnacht, prompted Eisch to create a series of works known as the Night of the Crystal Death portfolio.

Rather than rely photographs, Eisch turned to his childhood memories and recent feelings to enrich his work. Eisch’s village of Frauenau in Germany, home to a 600 year old glass industry, did not suffer the violent riots that swept through Germany and Austria in November 1938. However, Eisch remembers a childhood of fear, uncertainty, and poverty. Later in life, Eisch grappled with the burden of shame laid upon all native Germans for the atrocities of the Second World War and Shoah (the Holocaust). These emotions are expressed through Eisch’s spontaneous use of line, relatable forms, and identifiable symbols in his prints.
Often Eisch takes a humanist approach in dealing with global issues in his art. Here his craft and hand augment his interpretation of the riots of November 1938. Made from engraved glass plates, the viteograph prints focus on the human aspects from that night – the shared and individual memories of pain, loss, anger, and hatred – instead of a literal interpretation of shattered glass and racial prejudice.

Works on loan from the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities
This exhibition can be viewed February 25 – May 3, 2012

Sponsored by
The Singh Group • Merrill Lynch


Erwin Eisch, Opus 9 from the Night of the Crystal Death portfolio, 1992, viteograph print on paper.
On loan to the Figge Art Museum from the collection of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.

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