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Albert Tucker's Memory of Leonski

Memory of Leonski is one of the most aggressive images made by Albert Tucker during World War II. In 1942 Private Edward Leonski, an American GI stationed in Melbourne, assaulted and murdered three women, seemingly for pleasure. Tucker depicts a confusion of male and female figures with gigantic limbs, dominated by a pinhead with a laughing mouth. One of the hands squeezes a bird, the dove of peace, while the other reaches out to an aeroplane, a machine of war. The legs are spread, the female genitals mimicking the American flag. This is an image of horrible abandon. Memory of Leonski is also a powerful symbol of a society torn apart by war and is undoubtedly one of Tucker’s most important paintings. 

Geoffrey Smith