Saturday, November 15, 2008

More on Lee Kessler's The Hand



The Background for the Drawing By Lee Kessler (Artist)

"With the onslaught of the Russian Army and their advance on Austria and the Danube in late March 1945, the Germans evacuated Stalag XVII-B, marching those who could walk, on the road West. After a couple of weeks on the road, we passed a place called Mauthausen. We later learned it was a Concentration Camp, although at the time we knew little about them. Approaching us from the opposite direction was a group of prisoners from this camp who had been working in a quarry. They were Hungarian Jews and were guarded by the S.S. We were halted at the side of the road as these walking skeletons passed. Occasionally we heard the crack of pistols and knew what they were for. Those who fell and were too weak to get up were shot. The prisoners followed a wagon and loaded the bodies.

"I approached one of the bodies of a man shot in the head lying along the side of the road and noticed a crinkled photograph by his hand. As he lie, his arm stretched out as if to be reaching for the picture. I moved off the road for a better look at the photo and I was just about to pick it up, but a guard shouted for me to get back. The picture was of a women and two small children. As I glanced back, I saw that a butterfly had lit on him.

"I was obsessed with the scene. Here was this man, dead by the side of the road. The last thing he looked at was a picture of his family, probably his only possession, and where were they? Dead, or in some other camp? At that moment I could only think that everyone has the right to die with dignity, and here was a poor soul who died with such obscurity.

"Sometime in the 1950s, I started a sketch of a rough outline but put it away, since I felt no one would understand what I was trying to portray. Twenty years later, as I lie in the hospital, a nurse who knew me and my association with art suggested I do art work for therapy. I had my wife hunt for this sketch, bring me my pen and ink, and with the encouragement of the staff, I finished the picture.

"Like other pictures, I put it away feeling that no one but me could really understand it.
"In 1983, a POW Convention in Cleveland, when another POW was being interviewed, he related the story of how he saw a man fall. “While lying on the ground, he pulled a picture from his pocket, and as he kissed it the S.S. guard shot him.”
Lee Kessler

27 comments:

gregg said...

How do I purchase a print of "The Hand?"

r morris said...

Gregg, there are no more copies on the market. It was a limited edition of 300, I believe. I have one but it is in archival glass and framed. I could make you a copy of a smaller version that I have if you get in touch with me via geriamor@msn.com

kreationsbykay said...

Hi, is the original at an art museum? How much can I get a copy for?

kreationsbykay said...

Hi, where is the original drawing? Is it in a art museum. Where and how much can I get a copy for?

kreationsbykay said...

Thanks

kreationsbykay said...

Thanks

r morris said...

Hi folks.
The original was in the possession of the artist, Lee Kessler, and I presume is now in the possession of his heirs. There were 300 prints made, total. One is at Yad Vashem in Israel, one was at the Holocaust Museum in DC but was stolen, and the only other one I am aware of is my own copy. I would say it is next to impossible to get a copy at this time.

kreationsbykay said...

My great aunt seems to think she has a copy (being that the artist has the original), so I am trying to do some research on it. Whats the value on a copy?

r morris said...

She may. As to value, I have no idea, since they were originally given away and not sold.

Mike Gottesman said...

We just returned from 4 days in Windham NY where we went to a Antique Barn sale. We saw a framed Holocaust print which we now know to be "The Hand." But we do not know if it is an original print or a copy. It has his name below the print towards the right side and the number 74 under the name. Does anyone know where we can get it authenticated in the NY/NJ area.

Thank you

Mike Gottesman said...

We just returned from 4 days in Windham NY where we went to a Antique Barn sale. We saw a framed Holocaust print which we now know to be "The Hand." But we do not know if it is an original print or a copy. It has his name below the print towards the right side and the number 74 under the name. Does anyone know where we can get it authenticated in the NY/NJ area.

Thank you

Mike Gottesman said...

We just returned from a trip to Windham NY where we went to a barn sale and found what turns out to be a print of "The Hand." It is framed so we can't tell if it is truly a print or a copy. It has the artists name with the number 74 below the two "ss" in Kessler.

Does anyone know where I might take it to be authenticated in the NY/NJ area?

Mike Gottesman said...

We just returned from a trip to Windham NY where we went to a barn sale and found what turns out to be a print of "The Hand." It is framed so we can't tell if it is truly a print or a copy. It has the artists name with the number 74 below the two "ss" in Kessler.

Does anyone know where I might take it to be authenticated in the NY/NJ area?

Mike Gottesman said...

We just found a print at a Barn Sale. How do I tell if it is an original and where can I get it appraised and authenticated. Does Anyone know?

Mike Gottesman said...

We just picked up what we think may be one of the original prints at a Barn Sale in Windham, NY. How can we tell if it is one of the original and where can we have it authenticated/appraised?

Does anyone know

r morris said...

Mike, so sorry it took so long to post your comment. Your copy sounds like one of the original prints. There are only 300 in the world. Does it have any extra information with it? There should be a map and some other items.
This may be one of the rarer pieces of WWII art.

K Wilkey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Gottesman said...

r morris -
All I have is the print museum frame. I don't want to open it up if at all possible. But I have no map or other items. Where are you located. Maybe you could take a look at it.

betsy kay said...

I think I have one of the hand with authentication letter and other papers...............Would like to know the value.....

betsy kay said...

I have this "The Hand " and will sell it and have authentication papers and letters for it.............don't know the value though.............would like to know where I call get the value of it and would like to sell it..................

r morris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
r morris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
r morris said...

I guess there are 300 "Hands", not 500. They are very rare. One is at Yad Vashem. Another used to be at the Holocaust Museum in DC. Anotehr is at the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville.

Al Gonzales said...

I have a copy of "THE HAND"...it also has a number 74 under the two "ss" as was posted earlier. Just cleaned out my storage after twenty years.

Lon Levitan said...

Hello, I have a lithograph of "Ther Hand" that was once my grandfather's. It comes with a letter that explains the artist's thoughts and a letter of authenticity saying it was produced by Yoder and Armstrong in East Lansdowne, PA. Is this one of the original copies? Thank you!

Tony said...

I have a copy of "The Hand" along with "Certificate of Authenticity". It also has a copy of the "Background of the print. It also has the number 74. Not sure what that number means. Any idea if anyone would be interested in purchasing it or what it might be worth?

Tony said...

I have a copy of the print "The Hand". I also have a copy of "Certification of Authenticity" along with "Background of the print". Mine also has 74 under Kessler. Is anyone interested in purchasing it or what the value is?