Si Lewen’s Parade


New York, NY (November 17, 2017)—ABRAMS, the premier publisher of art and illustrated books, is pleased to announce that a signed limited edition copy of Si Lewen’s Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey, has just been accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Frances Mulhall Achilles Library, along with two original drawings. Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize–winning creator of Maus, who edited, designed, and wrote the monograph in this unique two-sided accordion-fold volume, describes The Parade, a story in pictures drawn right after World War II, as “a moving free-jazz dirge of a book that depicts mankind’s recurring war fever. It remains as sadly urgent and relevant today as when it was drawn.”

Farris Wahbeh, who holds the position of the Benjamin and Irma Weiss Director of Research Resources at the Whitney, states that “We are honored that the limited edition publication of Si Lewen’s Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey is now included in the Whitney’s Frances Mulhall Achilles Library. The publication is an incredible document of the artist’s unwavering artistic impulse to visualize the impact of war and tyranny on humanity. The beautiful production of the book, so carefully and thoughtfully overseen by Art Spiegelman, takes the reader through the harrowing and haunting journey that the artist depicted in his stunning artworks.”

David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, declares: “We’re thrilled that Si Lewen’s work is now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lewen’s art pairs his profound humanistic sensibility with formal, graphic inventiveness. His poignant treatment of dislocation and loss, of war and its aftermath, is an American story that haunts and inhabits our everyday.”

Barbara Haskell, a curator at the Whitney, says, “Lewen’s silent pictures, as timeless as they are profound and moving, testify to the resilience of the human spirit. The relevance of his art to today’s apocalyptic world makes studying it more essential than ever.”

When the Whitney acquisition was arranged, Art Spiegelman wrote that “If Si Lewen, my God-fearing atheist friend or I believed in an afterlife—it’s much easier to believe in the apocalypses he painted, especially these days—he’d be feeling vindicated seeing his work finally entering the Whitney’s collection only ninety-nine years after his birth, one year after his death, and sixty years after some of his paintings were first shown at a Whitney annual exhibition back in 1957.”

Si Lewen’s two original drawings, outtakes from The Parade, that were recently accepted into the Whitney Museum’s Collection



Si Lewen (1918–2016) was born in Poland on November 8, 1918 and moved to Berlin in 1920 with his Jewish parents, when they fled an outbreak of pogroms in Lublin after World War I. Two years after Hitler came to power, the family managed to get to New York where Lewen continued to study painting. He served in the US Army during World War II as one of the Ritchie Boys (German-speaking special ops). He was at the front in Normandy and was one of the first soldiers to enter Buchenwald concentration camp upon its liberation. After the war, Lewen found critical and commercial success as a New York painter but withdrew from galleries in 1985, declaring “Art is not a commodity—it’s priceless! And when it’s priceless, it’s worthless!” This allowed Lewen to paint more prolifically than ever and collage pieces of his now “worthless” canvases in new and startling ways. Si Lewen died on July 25, 2016 at the age of ninety-seven—a few days after seeing the first advance bound proof of his book.


Si Lewen’s Parade (Abrams ComicArts; October 4, 2016; $40.00; ISBN: 978-1-4197-2161-8) is a timeless story told in a language that knows no country—a wordless epic that, despite its muteness, is more powerful than the written or the spoken word. First published in 1957, it has been reproduced in a two-sided accordion-fold format with an extensive overview of the artist’s career on the verso, edited and annotated by Art Spiegelman. As The Parade unfolds, the reader is taken on an unforgettable journey of sequential images. The book is also available in a limited edition of 150 copies that come with an exclusive print signed by Lewen and Spiegelman, bound in a deluxe cloth slipcase (Abrams ComicArts; $250; ISBN: 978-1-4197-2332-4).


For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Tager