Pyre, 1992

While still unfulfilled in its full conception, Pyre is perhaps one of Raimondi’s most ambitious and political (and therefore, most problematic) works of art. As a Holocaust memorial, this sculpture is meant to stand in a garden adjacent to Manhattan’s Battery Park, where the Holocaust Museum opened in 1997. In its full expression, the sculpture will stand 72 feet tall, but today the garden-scale piece stands 18 feet and is still tremendously moving. In Pyre overcoats, like those worn by Jews shipped to the camps in freezing cattle cars, ascend into the sky like smoke. It evokes other works of art dedicate to this theme, including the film Shoah, Chagall’s shtetl Jews shown flying through the sky in his paintings, and Alfred Stieglitz’s photograph, Steerage, which captures the Jews, wrapped in overcoats as they entered America at Ellis Island. ”For Raimondi, Pyre came of its own volition, arriving with sudden, inevitable rightness,” according to critic William Corbett.

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