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.
The auction at Christie’s in Paris this May 11 of a Tuscan Mahzor, created and illuminated in the 1490’s, will be an extraordinary event. This rare example of illuminated Jewish art has not been seen publically in over 500 years and, aside from tantalizing internal suggestions, lacks conclusive identification of the scribe and illuminators. Because the gold-tooled goatskin binding was made about 50 years after the manuscript and has a different coat of arms than those found in the machzor, it is assumed that this prayerbook may have quickly changed hands.
Beneath Baruch Spinoza's smiling bust on his tombstone on the grounds of the Nieuwe Kerk in the Hague is an inscription of his famous motto, "caute" (written cavte on the stone, see image one), or "cautiously" in Latin. Between that admonition and the dates of his life - 1632 to 1677, cut short by an illness whose identity is hotly debated - is the Hebrew word "amcha" or "amach", Hebrew for "your people" or "your nation."
John Bradford's exhibition of nine paintings, done in the 1990's - presents us with a conundrum.
Monkeys and apes are generally symbols of base passion, particularly lust, in Western art. Giovanni Battista Foggini's 17th century bronze sculpture "The Fall of Man" shows not only the serpent dangling from the Tree of Knowledge tempting Adam and Eve, but also a monkey seated behind the tree eating an apple. Foggini may have gotten the idea from Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose 1612 painting "Garden of Eden" features a monkey prominently, or from a c. 1410 "The Garden of Eden" by an unknown artist in Frankfurt. A century earlier, Martin Luther had famously referred to Satan as "God's ape," building upon the then-popular view of monkeys as unintelligent animals that simply mimicked primitive human behavior.
Lynn Russell's current exhibition at the Chassidic Art Institute challenges us with a piety that resists all easy answers.
In some ways, Sukkot is the most contemporary of holidays. Many pay good money and invest a lot of time and effort to obtain a beautiful etrog-indeed its biblical name is "fruit of the beautiful tree"-and the most visually appealing lulav, hadasim and aravot. There are various schools of thought on whether to refrigerate or not to refrigerate, to wrap in aluminum foil or wet paper towel, all with the goal of preventing the four species from spoiling and jeopardizing their smell and visual appearance. There is no specific requirement that the schach covering the sukkah be alive-indeed it cannot be made of something still attached to the ground-but the entire atmosphere of Sukkot is one of growth, natural living, and disengaging from our comfort zone. Indeed, it is on the extended Sukkot holiday that a prayer is offered for rain, the source of life.
The outsider artist has become a fixture of the postmodern age. There are exhibitions, books, symposia and museums documenting artists who create outside the accepted norms of "fine art." The French artist Jean Dubuffet along with Andre Breton first defined outsider art as Art Brut (Raw Art) in 1945 and collected examples of work they considered "uncooked" by either classical or contemporary cultural influences.
The L.A Story, a selection of works from 10 contemporary Los Angeles Jewish artists currently at the Hebrew Union College - Institute of Religion Museum, poses the question of what exactly constitutes Jewish Art and what is its condition today on the West Coast.
One of the greatest insights Jacques Derrida laid out in his conceptualization of Deconstruction was that a thing can coexist with its opposite, and in fact, neither can be properly understood without the other.
The title page to a 1610 edition of 12th-century poet and legal scholar, Eliezer ben Nathan's "Even Ha'ezer" ("Stone of Salvation," per I Samuel 7:12) features a woodcut that looks fairly standard at first glance. Two pillars flank the central alignment of the Hebrew text, and two birds perch atop the columns. Beneath the pillars are two lions and two hands, configured in the manner of the priestly blessing, with a gap between the joined index and middle fingers and the ring and small fingers. This combination of hands and lions constitutes the printing mark of Moses ben Bezalel Katz of Prague, who was a Kohen.
The smile is as unmistakable as the pointed white beard, long flowing side curls, black hat, robe and thick white socks.
The recent works of David Gelernter, artist, author and professor of computer science at Yale University, compel us to listen and really see. His statements in the gallery video are riveting and his images, especially the Kings of Israel series are revelatory. It is in the dialectic between these two distinct approaches that we can understand his insight into the past and be guided into a present appreciation of Jewish Art.
The ancient Greek poets wrote myths about the Fates - the three daughters of Nyx, the powerful goddess Night. They are also called the Moerae sisters.
Jacqueline Nicholls, a Jewish artist from England, presents us with a formidable challenge. Namely, what is the role of a contemporary Jewish Woman artist and how does one confront patriarchal dominance? She presents her response to both queries in her current exhibition at the JCC Manhattan, beautifully curated by Tobi Kahn and organized by Tisch Gallery director Megan Whitman. The results are breathtakingly forceful, subtle and insightful.
In a 1972 study, Stanley Milgram found that "familiar strangers" who share a repeated experience (like riding the same bus every day) are likelier to communicate when cast into an unfamiliar setting, than are two strangers with no such shared experience.
Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" explores tragically unrequited anticipation.
Michael Gleizer's work is unfortunately all too easy to pigeonhole. You are not likely to ever encounter it in the Whitney Biennial, and you had better not expect to see it selling for hundreds of millions alongside Damien Hirst's works at auction.
Two masters of modern photography are on view at the International Center of Photography; Chim (Szymin) aka David Seymour and Roman Vishniac. They are both Jewish and just happen to bring astute but radically different visions to Jewish photographic subjects. These brilliant, exhaustive exhibitions help us examine the fundamentals of what it means to create a Jewish Art in photography.
One of the most iconic works of art I have ever seen is Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai’s c. 1831-1834 Cresting Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa.
There is perhaps a paradox afoot in conventional American Jewish views on Holocaust memory.
A poor child's feet parade crude sandals, straps affixed to soda bottles with the caps still intact.
Some artists' iconoclastic, bohemian behavior gets them into trouble.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland's "Lives Lost" exhibit offers a meditation on a "dramatic but little known story" - according to the museum Associate Director Anita Kassof.
For the Jewish artist the desire to illuminate a Torah is an irresistible act of devotion, an offering to Hashem as precious as any sacrifice imaginable. Each parsha is etched into the Jewish consciousness as a calendar for the year, changing weekly, subject, tone and atmosphere. From the primal drama of Lech Lecha to the national transformation of Yisro, and beyond to Moshe's tragic death on the eve of our long sought homecoming, the weekly portion celebrates and delineates God's complex relationship to His beloved. Illuminating the Torah parsha by parsha is the artist's ultimate amidah.