Elizabeth Rynecki is the author of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter's Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write, "In 1999 I built a website dedicated to sharing my great-grandfather's art." How much did you know about his art to begin with, and how did your original project turn into this book and a companion documentary film?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I grew up with a lot of my great-grandfather’s paintings hanging in both my parents’ and grandparents’ homes. It was always around me, in the background even if I wasn’t really paying attention.
I understood from an early age it was the work of my great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki, who perished in the Holocaust, but that’s about all I knew--my parents and grandparents didn’t often talk about the war, and even less about what came before.
It wasn’t until I read my Grandpa George’s memoir (discovered in 1992, after his funeral), that I learned much about Moshe himself. Even then, I didn’t really get a good perspective on his life and work until I began digging for more information.
In late 1998 my Dad proposed we build a website to showcase my great-grandfather’s art. His thinking was this: we have the art in our home, very few people see it every year, and putting it online would make it more accessible to people around the world.
In retrospect, it was a pretty novel idea. While most museums had something of an online presence in the late ‘90s, finding private collectors and their collections online was exceedingly rare.
It was hugely serendipitous; as people saw the site, they...[read on]