Post-Holocaust Jewish Aniconism and the Theological Significance of Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
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This paper challenges the widespread emphasis on the absence of God in post- Holocaust historiography, theology, and art by suggesting that Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross may have been conceived under the theological category of the apophatic rather than the aesthetic category of the sublime. This paper focuses on the “anti-realist” position of Newman and other artists for whom the Holocaust necessitated a renewed aniconic tendency in Jewish aesthetics. His work, I suggest, holds out a tension between absolute absence and redemptive presence that at once resists and affirms a negative aesthetic of God’s solidarity with suffering.

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