web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Sections » Arts »

Itshak Holtz Drawings

Chassidim (1963), Charcoal on paper by Itshak Holtz. 
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Bentzion Zeitlin

Chassidim (1963), Charcoal on paper by Itshak Holtz. Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Bentzion Zeitlin

The Betzalel Gallery
567 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, New York – 718 307 1005
Sun, Mon, Wed, Thursday 11am – 7pm
Until June 10, 2012

Examining a choice selection of drawings done by Itshak Holtz over 30 years ago is a rare pleasure that allows for the appreciation of his unique sensitivity and insights. I was afforded that pleasure at the inaugural exhibition of the Betzalel Gallery in Crown Heights this past May. Although this modest selection of 25 drawings and watercolors of this paradigmatic frum artist ranges from 1963 to 1999, the majority of the works is from the 1970s and reveals a special aspect of his inner artistic soul. The selection of images could easily narrate the fabric of ordinary Jewish life.

Rejoicing (1974), felt pen and marker on paper by Itshak Holtz.
Collection of Mr. Mrs. Nachman Hellman

Rejoicing (1974), which at first seems so recognizable, is actually a delightful conundrum. What should be a scene from a wedding or other joyous occasion slowly reveals itself to be a much simpler image of men dancing. Both the loose nature of the artist’s line and the baggy clothing sets the piece not at a simcha but rather on the street, a kind of spontaneous gathering and celebration. On the left there is one individual who has not joined, his hands clasped behind his back. Strangers come together for a few moments of communal rejoicing and affirm a shared Jewishness.

A uniquely solitary moment is captured in Keeping Up With the News (1970). This genre study takes us into the fabric of most people’s lives, the quiet moments we spend reading the newspaper. While the singular concentration of being absorbed in a story or column is something we can all relate to, the fact that this gentleman has his hat and coat on, with a scarf wrapped around his neck stirs up questions of exactly where he is placed. The more I look at this drawing the more I feel the chill of an under heated apartment.

At the Newsstand (1971), felt pen and marker on paper by Itshak Holtz.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bentzion Zeitlin

Holtz returns to the subject of newspaper reading in At the Newsstand (1971) in again a disarmingly simple image. While this warmly toned drawing seems straightforward enough, it actually captures a moment of mysterious drama. This man has just purchased a daily newspaper and after he has taken barely two steps away from the newsseller, he is for some reason compelled to stop dead in his tracks. He rips open the paper to intensely read its contents. What scenario has unfolded we can never know: a story that affects his personal life, an explosive political event, a crucial sports score or the results of a horserace, whatever it is, we have all felt that emotion of needing to know right now.

While these emotions are not uniquely Jewish it is perhaps the passion to know, the need to seize the moment, that marks these images as reflections of our people. What is uniquely Jewish is the shtreimel. He was only 36 when he did this drawing, but seen here, these two Chasidim (1963) establish Holtz’s early commitment to depicting the orthodox Jewish world. But beyond such a commitment, this charcoal drawing is a monumental homage to the Old Masters. These two heads reflect the classical motif of two views of the same individual. The individual in the foreground is naturalistic, casual and empathetic while the profile is a more formal study, and yet refreshingly simple and clear.

Reminiscing (1972), Charcoal on paper by Itshak Holtz.
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Bentzion Zeitlin

Another study that demands attention is Reminiscing(1972). Again Holtz is deeply in the genre mode, minutely describing an old woman, and yet his ability to shift the focus from sentimentality to a woman deep in introspection is breathtaking. Here we are confronted with a real person, her hat slightly askew, perhaps atop an equally precarious wig. Her face has all the characteristic wrinkles of age and yet it is the lone highlight on her right lower eyelid that directs our consciousness into her inner world of memory and longing.

The Funeral (1966), Charcoal on paper by Itshak Holtz.
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Bentzion Zeitlin

Perhaps the most shocking of Holtz’s drawing is also among the earliest. The Funeral (1966) depicts five chasidim carrying a body on a bier. The grave is a gaping hole framed by two shovels stuck in the ground ready to be used. These men do not visibly mourn. While the women behind them cry and lament, the men just carry and do their duty for the deceased. Their emotions are all interior, held in check as they perform the most holy honor. The drawing captures exactly the essentials of a Jewish funeral: we honor the dead by returning them to the ground from which we all originated. We do so in quiet love, honor and respect. It is the Jewish way. Holtz has expressed the essential Jewish service – just like that.

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 “Itshak Holtz Drawings”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US President Barack Obama speaking on the phone last month aboard Air Force One.
US Reveals Failed Summer Mission to Rescue Captured Journalist
Latest Sections Stories
(L-R) Rabbis Tzvi Mandel, Akiva Stolper, Meir Borovetz, Yochanan Ivri and Shlomo Rizel. (Not shown: Rabbi Shmaya Modes.)

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

Lewis-081514-Anna-Ticho

“I didn’t choose the landscape; it chose me.”

Astaire-081514

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

The world sees the hand of God through us, and does not like it.

The Rebbetzin began campaigning to increase public awareness of the importance of saying Amen.

Some educators today believe that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder falls into an executive function category.

It’s ironic that the reality of death is often the greatest force steering the affirmation of life.

The theme of the event was “Together Let us Rebuild our Holy Beis HaMikdash on Tisha B’Av.”

Chaya Aydel Seminary has already established a close connection with France’s Jewish community.

All attendees left with fervent wishes for a swift and lasting peace in Israel.

How can awareness evolve from exploding stars?

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.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/itshak-holtz-drawings/2012/07/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: