web analytics
August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Harry McCormick’s Paintings: A Unique Jewish Genre


Rabbi Lieberow and Family; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick.
Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Rabbi Lieberow and Family; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Chassidic Art Institute
375 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-774-9149
Noon – 7pm, Sunday – Thursday: Zev Markowitz, director
Until July 25

At the Chassidic Art Institute one artist, Harry McCormick, has rather amazingly fathomed the authentic heartbeat of the individual Jewish life. This exhibition, running until July 25, shows a mere 16 paintings, but six of them reveal a deeply perceptive and sensitive chronicle of Yiddishkeit.

As curated by Chassidic Art Institute’s director Zev Markowitz, the paintings delineate a narrative arc around the gallery: the warmth of the Jewish family unfolds into the blessings of Shabbos and then blossoms into blessing the sun, a mitzvah available only once every 28 years. Moving beyond this sacred familial foundation we see one Jew standing alone in a mystical shul in Safed and then in Jerusalem; finally this Jew encounters a rabbinic mentor in a synagogue in New York. Quite a journey in one exhibition.

McCormick has had a successful career as an artist for most of his adult life, creating what is called genre art. While genre paintings, i.e. pictorial representation of everyday life with everyday people, can be found throughout all art history, it blossomed as a distinctive movement in the 17th century Dutch Golden Age of painting driven by the rise of the middle class. Its most famous practitioners include Brueghel, Vermeer, le Nain, Watteau, Fragonard, Chardin, Hogarth; right up to Bonnard, Hopper and even Norman Rockwell.

Eldridge Street Synagogue; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute.

Eldridge Street Synagogue; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute.

Over the years McCormick has specialized in depicting interiors with people, such as a decades long series depicting bars from around the world and their patrons. A quick glance at his website (www.mccormickstudios.com) reveals that these works are often penetrating sociological studies of the complexities of human relationships played out in extremely public spaces. Another recent fascinating series is of people looking at famous paintings in museums. While at first glance one might think that all he is doing is making an accurate representation of something he witnessed, a closer examination reveals that this is far from the truth. Aside from my discussions with the artist that revealed his complex working methods, we can immediately see that he takes enormous liberties with the actual size of many very famous artworks, all of which serves to heighten the intensely psychological narratives that play out in public art spaces. His encounter with the Jewish world is no less insightful.

Rabbi Lieberow and Family is a study in mystery cloaked in the ordinary. At first it seems like a charming family portrait of a father with his 4 children. And yet upon close inspection each child is immersed in his or her own world as the father carefully supervises. The two boys on his lap are occupied with stuff on the table; one is studying a piece of pita about to be consumed while his younger brother plays with a tiny toy. The boy in the foreground is intently kissing his father’s hand as his sister quizzically looks on. The heartwarming dynamics are complex and intriguing, especially when you realize that this image is the result of dozens of different studies, drawings and images painstakingly stitched together to create the illusion of a casual homebound scene. The painting divides into two parts that continually relate to each other. On the left the 3 figures ascend to the boy about to eat and finally to the ancestor portrait on the wall behind him. He is the link to the past, a piece of history in the making, while on the right there is the realm of Torah knowledge represented by the laden bookcase and the rabbi himself. The two books at the very top seem to symbolize the core of this family, the man and wife overseeing the unfolding family below. And of course the mystery is, where is the wife?

Friday Night Candles; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute.

Friday Night Candles; oil on canvas by Harry McCormick. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Harry McCormick’s Paintings: A Unique Jewish Genre”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Dr. Ben Carson (left) at the Western Wall in December 2014.
Pro-Israel Carson Breathing Down Neck of Pro-Israel Trump
Latest Sections Stories
book-Lord-Get-Me-High

Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.

Schonfeld-logo1

I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.

book-Avi's-Choice

His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.

There is a rich Jewish history in this part of the world. Now the hidden customs are being revealed, as many seek to reconnect with their roots.

There are times when a psychiatrist will over-medicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with.

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.

With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.

Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/harry-mccormicks-paintings-a-unique-jewish-genre/2013/07/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: