J’accuse (Maquette 2)

1968

Clay. 118 x 60 x24 cm

This was a design for a monument against war and dictatorship, probably conceived as a competition entry for the International Year for Human Rights. The title alludes to  Émile Zola’s spirited  defence of  Alfred Dreyfuss in his open letter to the President of the French Republic with regard to the unjust treason trial. The monument is conceived in the  form of a cenotaph, used since ancient times to commemorate the dead. The work looks both ancient and modern, inspired by a certain primitivism current in modern art.  Herman Wald’s edifice calls to mind a sacrificial altar with the nude corpse of a youth, hanging over it face down, his arms framing the relief portrait bust  of the metaphorical dictator.  This position may also imply a form of worship of the   dictator for whom the youth has sacrificed his life. It was conceived during the time of the Vietnam War although its field of reference is far wider and refers to all wars in which youth is relentlessly sacrificed.  There is a stylistic accord with Constantin Brancusi and with Roman obelisks. The artist’s political stance which was passionately pacifist powerfully  apparent in this work.

 © Kaplan Centre

Images reproduced by kind permission of Louis Wald

The Life and Art of

HERMAN WALD

(1906-1970)