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The Cover |

Execution

Thomas B. Cole, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2012;308(7):650. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3149.
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Execution (cover), by the American painter Bendor Mark (1912-1995), is not easy to look at. The painter has put the viewer at the scene of an extrajudicial killing. An image such as this may provoke feelings of frustration or shame at encountering a scene of abuse and being unable to do anything about it, like seeing the photographs of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The prisoner in this painting is no one in particular, just a character in a particularly gruesome act of man's inhumanity to man. Mark emphasizes that this image is a generic execution by depersonalizing the actors in the scene. He does not show the prisoner's face, and he does not show the killer at all.

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Bendor Mark (1912-1995), Execution, 1940, American. Oil on canvas. 51.1 × 61.4 cm. Courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (http://www.lacma.org/), Los Angeles, California; anonymous gift, M.80.194.1. © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA. Licensed by Art Resource, New York, New York.

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