University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


David Schwab

david schwabDavid Schwab was born in New York City in 1921 and spent his childhood in the small town of Bishopville, South Carolina, a place which appears in several of his paintings.

His family returned to New York in the 1930’s where he attended the High School of Music and Art. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy. He returned to civilian life in 1945 and became a diamond cutter, working on some of the world’s best known gems.

In the early 1960’s he revisited the arts of drawing and painting which he cultivated as a high school student. In the late 1970’s, he branched out into sculpture.

His work has been exhibited in many group shows, including the Queensborough Community College Holocaust Memorial Exhibitions in 1985 and 1987. In 1987, his sculptures won first prize in the Great Neck Artists Network Show. Earlier, his oils won first prize at the Fresh Meadows Outdoor Art Show in 1966.

As a sculptor, David Schwab is best known for his portrayal of people in the Middle East—Arabs and Jews. His figures, in marble, alabaster and bronze of Bedouin women and Orthodox Jewish men in their distinctive garb are evocative representations of the human mystery and the complexity of the region claimed by two peoples. In an area of the world that the artist says has fascinated him all his life and which seized his imagination early in his artistic career.

About the artistic process, Schwab acknowledges that he does not normally like to paint or sculpt form real life or use live models. "I believe in drawing, painting and sculpting from imagination, memory or both." he says. "When working from imagination and memory, there is an added dimension of power that enables me to reveal my innermost feelings and emotions."

"I try to crystallize my feelings and emotions in the human figure, the sensuality and movements of which fascinate me. What is hidden is more sensual. When I paint or sculpt, I try to allow my emotions to take over and help me relive past feelings. The mystery of life intrigues me. I have been searching for the create of life for as long as I can remember and have tried to carry on this search through my art." Many of Schwab's paintings exhibit the loneliness of the street and place associated with the work of American painter Edward Hopper, or the sculptural works of George Segal. All of these works suggest a disturbing anxiety, which may have been the artists response to events in Europe. His bronze work, on the other hand, reflects more themes from the Jewish folkloric experience."

Schwab lived with his wife, Leona, In Jamaica, Long Island. He died on October 3, 2002 in New York.

For more information on the legacy and artwork of David Schwab please contact:
Leona Schwab. 144-25 Coolidge Ave,Jamaica, New York 11435
Phone: (718) 657-9124 e-mail:



"Selma, Alabama 1965"


"Coal Heaps" (1966)


"Corner of the Room" (1966)


"Discussion I" (1966)


"Rooftop" (1966)


"Subway" (1966)


"Bishopville, SC 1925" (1967)


"Man in the Window" (1967)


"Early Sunday Morning" (1968)


"Sitting Shiva."


"The Diamond Cutter: Self-Portrait" (1969)


"Middle of the Road" (1969)


"Meditation" (1969)


"The Candy Store" (1970)


"Shore Leave" (1975)


"Dogon Cliffs" (1978)


"Zayda, the Shoemaker" (1982)


"Alone in the Cell" (1985)


"Crematoria" (1985)


"Auschwitz" (1985)


"Bishopville, SC 2"


"Running Away from Home" (1991)


"Hiding from Justice" (1997)


"Outrage." Sculpture/Bronze, 1985

"Storm at Sea" (1971)
"Reclining Figure" (1970)
"The Lone Boat" (1980)

"The Civil Rights Struggle" (1968)

"Old Age" (1963)

"Deserted Farmhouse" (1964)

"Four Rabbis" (1964)

"Love of Torah" (1965) pencil sketch

"Pool Room" (1964)

"L'Chayim!" (1968)

"Sign of the Cohanim" (1968)

"Kiddush L'Ievanah 1" (1969)

"Two Sisters" (1970)

"Three Women" 1970

"Three Arab Women" (1975)

"Two Arab Women" (1975)

"Hand Outstretched" (1982) alabaster

"A Hard Life" (1983) bronze

"Duchenen" (1983)

"Prayer for the Dead" (1984)

"Outrage" (1965)

"Pieta" (1989)

"Why has Thou forsaken me?" (1993)

"Dreams" (1986) Carrera marble