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Contemporary Art

statue, cor-ten steal, human upside down with mask in between the legs


Menashe Kadishman
Israel, b. 1932
The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1985
Cor-ten steel
15 ft. 1 in. x 15 ft. 5 in. x 9 ft. 10 in.
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Simon A. Levit and Family, 2003

This sculpture recasts the Biblical tale of Abraham’s offer to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God, and addresses the subject of the sacrifice of young people in war. The original story in the Book of Genesis tells that an angel appeared moments before Isaac’s sacrifice and substituted a ram in place of Abraham’s beloved son. In the present sculpture, Isaac (representing youth sent into battle) is sacrificed, while the ram (representing the state, government, or authorities responsible for war) survives and emerges emboldened from the body of the slain Isaac.


The Sacrifice of Isaac, by internationally acclaimed sculptor Menashe Kadishman, was partly inspired by an experience the artist had while serving as a soldier in his native Israel. On patrol, he came across a body so badly decomposed that he was unable to tell if the person was Arab or Israeli. Kadishman has said the only thing of which he was certain was that the person had been sacrificed in the name of war.