bruno schulz

“Carriage Driver (self-portrait), Drohobych” 1941-42

Behind Fairy Tale Drawings, Walls Talk of Unspeakable Cruelty

The 2/28 NYT’s story of Bruno Schulz includes the cruel details of his death, but also the fact that he almost escaped, almost.

Here’s the paragraph re: his death: “{Gestapo officer] Landau did save Schulz for more than a year, until November 1942, by providing him with work and the means for minimal sustenance. Schulz, whose literary reputation as a short-story writer had already been established, had obtained false Aryan papers and was about to escape when another Gestapo sergeant, Karl Günter, angry that Landau had killed his Jewish dentist, put a bullet in Schulz’s head. He is said to have told Landau: ‘You killed my Jew. Now I’ve killed yours.'”

No wonder Schulz’s story has captivated artists and writers for years. Some of the artwork that’s in the exhibit in Israel comes from the murals Schulz painted for Landau. He painted his own face on some of the fairy tale characters, as well as others he knew.

Is he interesting to us because of the tragedy in his story? The loss of someone whose artistic gifts were considered valuable? Would this loss be as tragic to us if he weren’t a gifted artist and writer? What about his humanity? Wonder if he’d want to be remembered for his tragedy or for his work? Wonder if he’d want to be remembered at all?

Maybe the writer Ethan Bronner wants to make us care about this man’s life and death … and that’s why he emphasizes how gifted Schulz was and, therefore, how great our communal loss.

Here’s an excerpt of Schulz’s writing (from the article): “My colored pencils rushed in inspiration across columns of illegible text in masterly squiggles, in breakneck zigzags that knotted themselves suddenly into anagrams of vision, into enigmas of bright revelation, and then dissolved into empty, shiny flashes of lightning, following imaginary tracks.”

Here’re more examples of his artwork: Bruno Schulz NYT slideshow


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