Dialectical reflections on Peter Eisenman's Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Normative, conceptual minimal conditions of adequacy for any Holocaust memorial arguably include a historical relation, in that the artwork must bear an intentional relation to historical facts of the Holocaust, and an aesthetic relation, in that the artwork must evince aesthetic properties of some sort that elicit an aesthetic experience. In this paper, after first outlining various design possibilities, including abstract or formalist art in general, within a dialectical framework of representation and non-representation, I argue that Eisenman's Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe fails to bear an adequate historical relation and, hence, is an unsuccessful memorial, despite defences of the design by Rauterberg, Eisenman and Agamben. By contrast, I show how memorials incorporating abstract art can successfully fulfil the minimal conditions by analysing Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Finally, drawing on the tradition of memorials to war dead, I propose a more radical alternative to Eisenman's project. © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pickford, HW

Published Date

  • August 1, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 2-3

Start / End Page

  • 419 - 439

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1755-0475

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1326-4826

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/13264826.2012.735636

Citation Source

  • Scopus