Had Gadya, the playful, threatening and ultimately reassuring song that ends many Seder evenings among Ashkenazi Jews, has a long history in the Haggada.
"We have inherited an amputated visual culture, viscously cut off from our artistic forefathers we have every right to lay claim to," exclaimed Archie Rand, artist and professor at Columbia University.
"We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don't know it."
Brad Sabin Hill was sitting in the Oriental Reading Room at the British Library.
George Grosz's 1944 painting, "Cain, or Hitler in Hell" shows the Nazi leader with his iconic moustache and uniform sitting sadly, mopping his brow.
Holocaust art has dominated the news lately for all the wrong reasons.
In a sense, the history of the Jewish people is a history of installation art. The thunder and lightning, booming shofar and floral assortment at Sinai were intense aesthetic experiences.
In Italo Calvino's short story "The Adventure of a Photographer," part of his collection Difficult Loves (1985), the "non-photographer" and bachelor Antonino Paraggi, finds himself increasingly alienated from his married friends who go out with their families and cameras each Sunday and "come back as happy as hunters with bulging game bags," their photographic catch of the day.
Some of history's greatest paintings have explored tragedy, from Francisco Goya's "Saturn Devouring his Son" and etching series on "The Disasters of War" to Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" to John Singer Sargent's "Gassed."
The midrashic world is a dangerous place to inhabit. It delves into our sacred texts to fathom their deeper meanings, solve vexing textual and conceptual problems and, finally, make sense of the holy words in contemporary terms. Midrash is passionate and deeply creative, like the current midrashic paintings of Brian Shapiro.
Perhaps far more important than the question of "why paint tragedy?" is the question of how to paint it.
Near the end of his long and productive life, Nicolas Poussin was commissioned in 1660 to paint an unusual series of paintings called the "Four Seasons".
It is only appropriate to begin a Hyman Bloom review with a Chassidic tale. A young man left his village to train as a menorah maker says Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and returned years later as a master designer. His father invited the local lamp makers to see his son's talents but grew angry when each guest found a different fault in his son's alleged masterpiece. The son then explained he had created the worst work imaginable. If the locals found just one fault each in his work, it was due to their blindness to their own aesthetic errors.
Not all artists are taken hostage by the BDS movement
With Pesach swiftly approaching, many are hyper-aware of all the cleaning and cooking implied in the festival.
The “book” is a mighty big place these days and the current exhibition at MOBIA, “As Subject and Object: Contemporary Book Artists Explore Sacred Hebrew Texts,” is no exception. Highly mobile ebooks compete with online publications and traditionally bound volumes, scrolls, accordion-style tomes and folios that present equally exciting options for contemporary artists to interact with image and text in one unifying medium.
"Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940" has opened at the New York Jewish Museum and will run through September 23. The exhibition offers a fresh view of the French artist Edouard Vuillard’s career, from the vanguard 1890s to the urbane domesticity of the lesser-known late portraits.
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion," wrote the political philosopher John Stuart Mill in his 1859 treatise On Liberty, "mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
I recognized him as the Fiddler immediately. Sure, he sat cross-legged on the floor (not the roof) with his back to the audience.
Empathy and memory meet in the work of Meer Akselrod (1902-1970), the Jewish Russian artist who defied aesthetic convention and totalitarian dictates to relentlessly pursue his personal artistic vision of painting the Jewish people. His quiet courage in the face of epochal changes that convulsed his Russian homeland cannot be overestimated. They are amply attested to by his artwork, not the least of which are two pen and ink drawings, Pogrom, from 1927 - 1928, currently at the Chassidic Art Institute.
In the eyes of the ram lies the artist’s commentary on the Rosh Hashanah piyyut “The King Girded with Strength.” From the Tripartite Mahzor (German 14th century), this illumination simultaneously echoes the piyyut’s praise of God’s awesome power and expresses the terror of actually being a sacrifice to God. The ram is but a reflection of Isaac. It is all in the eyes.
Boris Schatz (1866 – 1932) had a revolutionary vision. He believed that the creation of a new modern Jewish visual culture would become a major force to both articulate a Jewish national identity and sustain the Zionist enterprise. In 1904 he approached Zionist leader Theodor Herzl with the proposal to establish a national arts and crafts school in Palestine and got his blessing. Tragically Herzl died later that year, but the Zionist leadership in Vienna assumed responsibility for the project and its funding.
For American artists, the attacks on the Twin Towers are a particularly difficult subject matter.
A quiet monument to the courage and determination of hundreds of thousands of Jews sits vulnerable on the Lower East Side of New York City at 228 East Broadway. This location was the former home of the Bialystoker Center, built in 1931.
If you’re hearing this is when you’re driving and someone cuts you off, you’ll be able to breathe easy.