Author: Band Max, 1900 - 1974
Material / technique: oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 92x65 cm.
Signature: Max Band 33 (in the bottom-left corner of the painting).
Litvaks were always interested in politics, and they participated in political life. A Yiddish saying goes: ‘Two Jews, three opinions.’ At the end of the 19th century, revolutionary movements gained momentum: in 1890, the Vilnius Jewish Social Democrats were established, and in 1897 the Bund (General Union of Jewish Workers in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Russia) was founded in Vilnius. The Bund sought to reconcile Marxist socialism with national ideas, and to get Jews involved in the emerging Russian revolutionary movement. Czeslaw Miłosz wrote: ‘The old image of the Jews as the enemies of Christ was replaced by a new one: young men in high-necked Russian shirts, rallying to a foreign civilization’ (Czeslaw Miłosz, Native Realm, London, 1987, p. 93). Revolutionary ideas and new political movements expanded the range of subjects in art, and brought about winds of change. Proletarian subjects became more popular: smoking factory chimneys, exploited workers, and children begging on the streets. Emaciated factory workers became the prototypes for figurative compositions by Max Band. The artist was concerned about conveying the spiritual state and the inner world of the person portrayed, rather than the external features. A Jewish workman depicted with his hands on his knees succumbs to overwhelming fatigue (Vilma Gradinskaitė).