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Object of the Month - January 2014

Mária Lugossy (1950-2012) — Crystal Night, 1991-92 — Laminated and sandblasted glass, bronze — Collection of Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education — On loan to Cincinnati Skirball Museum

Winner of The American Interfaith Institute’s “Gold Award,” this work is a lament for Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the Jewish pogrom carried out in Germany on November 9th and 10th in 1938. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks and 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked and over 1,000 synagogues were burned and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. 

In the sculpture, time and space divide into crystalline glass blocks in a regular order. Each block encloses a once vivid, now rigid, human face. The faces appear like objects through the glass, as if in a simple and elegant shop window—their nearness has an appeal, but at the same time they evoke restlessness. The strict order of the serenely transparent glass blocks only temporarily alleviates the recognition that the vivid faces are death masks, caught in eternal bondage and solitude, unapproachable without freedom or the promise of hope. Broken shards with embedded faces spill out from the monolithic blocks, hauntingly symbolic of the Night of Broken Glass. 

This powerful installation was unveiled at the Kristallnacht 75th anniversary commemoration on November 9, 2013, a joint program of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education and the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The work will remain on view through January, in commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.