Portrait of My Mother

These pictures were taken of my mother the last week of her life. My mother grew up in Berlin in a wealthy family of artists and intellectuals, with sixteen servants and two nannies, one to braid the right side and the other to braid the left side of her hair. My mother said my grandmother was the best dressed woman in all of Berlin. Supposedly Max Beckman painted a portrait of my grandmother’s sister Cecelia. The painting was lost or stolen, and Cecelia did not survive the war. In 1939 my mother was put on a train by herself to Holland with two potatoes in her overcoat pocket.

Throughout most of my adult life, I wanted to photograph my mother. I would follow her around with my camera in hand, but she would always put up a fight and eventually I would back down. Therefore, it was amazing that in the last week of her life, she was so peaceful that my photographing didn’t bother her in the least. She smiled, didn’t argue at all, nodded her head in approval, and let me take these pictures.

My mother was also an artist. She had a wealth of talent and worked steadily throughout her life, yet her number one role was to take care of her family. Sadly, she left behind a legacy of unwanted, unpublished, basically unknown yet extraordinary work. I realize, now that she has passed away, that part of my determination to receive acknowledgement and support from the art world is to reward her for her efforts and to create some kind of continuum.