The Polish artist Erna Rosenstein, born in 1913 in Lwów, and raised in Kraków, chose art over the family business of law. In the 1930s, fierce and idealistic, she became part of a leftist avant-garde circle known as the Kraków Group; she was also committed to Surrealism. In 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, her family returned to Lwów. And when the Nazis occupied that city, she and her parents fled for Warsaw. On the way, in a forest, her parents were brutally murdered and Erna was left for dead. She saved herself by moving constantly, hiding in rural towns. Rosenstein’s painting style was altered forever. Personal trauma found expression in allegory and fairy tale. Disfigured faces, eerie landscapes, and somber abstract forms filled her canvases. Rosenstein died in 2004. This is the first monographic survey outside her native country to explore her paintings, drawings, sculptures, poems, and children’s stories. —E.C.
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