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Bloom’s Bittersweet Vision: Paintings by Lloyd Bloom

Upon entering Lloyd Bloom's exhibition at the Chassidic Art Institute one is confronted by the sweet beautiful image of a lamb skipping through the air in a puffy cloud landscape. Right next to it is an image of a goat kid cuddled up in the lap of a young shepherd. Further down the wall we see paintings depicting a young man leining from the Torah, then women lighting Shabbos candles and finally a father and son at the seder table, all candidates to be the most emblematic scene of Jewish life imaginable.

Moses’ Spies in Art

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman's Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst's illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst's drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

Moses’ Spies in Art

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman's Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst's illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst's drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

Howard Lerner’s Universe

Walking into Howard Lerner's studio is like falling headfirst into a Tanach made of sculpture. Right near the door is a 10-foot high Tower of Babel. Partially hidden behind this behemoth is a thoroughly idiosyncratic Vision of Ezekiel. Further along into the somewhat cluttered, but not chaotic, studio is a vista of massive sculptures; The Ark of the Covenant looms ahead while Elijah's Ascension is on the left, just past a 10 foot depiction of Enoch. To be totally honest, it's all a bit frightening.

Toby Cohen’s Hovering Hassidim

One of my favorite characters in all of literature is the senile patriarch Jos? Arcadio Buend?a, of Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, who, before getting tied to a tree for his own protection, decides he would like to capture God in a daguerreotype. Jos?'s ultimately unsuccessful design solution is to jump out from around a corner hoping to catch the deity unawares.

Toby Cohen’s Hovering Hassidim

One of my favorite characters in all of literature is the senile patriarch José Arcadio Buendía, of Gabriel García Márquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, who, before getting tied to a tree for his own protection, decides he would like to capture God in a daguerreotype. José's ultimately unsuccessful design solution is to jump out from around a corner hoping to catch the deity unawares.

Interfaith Medieval Artistic Collaborations Shed Light on Spanish Jewish-Christian Relations

In 1393, two years after the worst pogroms in Spanish history, the Jewish artist Abraham de Salinas accepted a commission to paint a New Testament-themed retablo, a work placed behind a church altar, for the cathedral of San Salvador. Another Jewish artist, the silversmith Bonaf?s Abenxueu (sometimes referred to as Bonaf?s Abenxueu), created the frame for the retablo.

Is There A Jewish Tradition About The Shape Of The Tablets Of The Ten...

Nearly six and a half centuries before McDonald's first introduced its iconic logo designed by Jim Schindler, artists had already invented the double-humped shape. The Flemish painter Michiel van der Borch's 1332 manuscript illustration "Moses receives the Tables of the Law" shows a haloed prophet, his hair twisted into horns, carrying his staff and wearing a red robe as he reaches out to receive the Ten Commandments from God. Hundreds of medieval manuscript illuminations, as well as dozens of paintings by Chagall, feature the same rounded layout.

Are the Jews Good for Andy Warhol?

The joke about "old and tribal" Jews, who are always pathologically wondering if everything is good for the Jews, goes that when they see a new lint filter on the dryer, they want to know if the new mechanism is good for the Jews. So says Josh Kornbluth in his one-man performance "Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?"

Hailing Turner’s Pestilence: Is The Artist’s Fifth Plague of Egypt Really A Typo?

In an instance of form following content, Joseph Mallord William Turner's "The Fifth Plague of Egypt" was recently exiled from its home at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the exhibit "J.M.W. Turner," which was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, in association with London's Tate Britain. According to the wall texts from both the exhibit and the painting's permanent home in Indianapolis, the title Turner selected for his biblical study features one of art history's greatest typos.

Hailing Turner’s Pestilence: Is The Artist’s Fifth Plague of Egypt Really A Typo?

In an instance of form following content, Joseph Mallord William Turner's "The Fifth Plague of Egypt" was recently exiled from its home at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the exhibit "J.M.W. Turner," which was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, in association with London's Tate Britain. According to the wall texts from both the exhibit and the painting's permanent home in Indianapolis, the title Turner selected for his biblical study features one of art history's greatest typos.

Nechama Farber: From Belarus To Jerusalem

Little did artist Nechama Farber know, when growing up in Minsk, Belarus, that some day she would yearn to live in Israel, become an artist, sell her Judaic paintings, drawings and prints internationally, be commission to create portraits for Jewish families, and, most noteworthy, create an original painting for one of the most grandiose synagogues in Eastern Europe, the 102 year old Riga Synagogue in Latvia.

Unraveling Jewish Threads: James Sturm’s Graphic Novel Market Day

Greek and Roman mythology envisioned the fates -- the Moirae or the Parcae -- as spinners of thread. Clotho (Nona) wove life's threads; Lachesis (Decima) measured; and Atropos (Morta) cut. To the Greeks and Romans, the cosmos was artfully woven by deities, but was also unstable and liable to fray or to unwind piece by piece. Given the Greco-Roman gods' tendencies to act like children, the pattern of life was particularly chaotic.

Unraveling Jewish Threads: James Sturm’s Graphic Novel Market Day

Greek and Roman mythology envisioned the fates -- the Moirae or the Parcae -- as spinners of thread. Clotho (Nona) wove life's threads; Lachesis (Decima) measured; and Atropos (Morta) cut. To the Greeks and Romans, the cosmos was artfully woven by deities, but was also unstable and liable to fray or to unwind piece by piece. Given the Greco-Roman gods' tendencies to act like children, the pattern of life was particularly chaotic.

Have Artists Condemned The “Wayward Wife” To Oblivion? Richard McBee’s new Sotah series

At the risk of being crude, the narrative in Numbers 5 of the Sotah, the so-called "wayward wife," ought to be a goldmine for biblical painters. It is hard to imagine a biblical punishment more vivid and aesthetically fertile than the adulterous woman's belly bursting after she drinks the "bitter waters" into which the priest has erased the Divine Name - a violation of the third commandment so reprehensible it is clear how serious the Torah sees this issue. Forget the shyness of Esther before Ahasuerus, which has so fascinated artists for centuries. The Sotah is on trial for her life, literally exposed and alone in front of a host of men in the holy Temple. Numbers 5 devotes 21 verses to the Sotah; by comparison, Numbers 20 only gives 13 verses to Moses' sin of striking the rock, which prevents him from entering the Holy Land.

Have Artists Condemned The “Wayward Wife” To Oblivion? Richard McBee

At the risk of being crude, the narrative in Numbers 5 of the Sotah, the so-called "wayward wife," ought to be a goldmine for biblical painters. It is hard to imagine a biblical punishment more vivid and aesthetically fertile than the adulterous woman's belly bursting after she drinks the "bitter waters" into which the priest has erased the Divine Name - a violation of the third commandment so reprehensible it is clear how serious the Torah sees this issue. Forget the shyness of Esther before Ahasuerus, which has so fascinated artists for centuries. The Sotah is on trial for her life, literally exposed and alone in front of a host of men in the holy Temple. Numbers 5 devotes 21 verses to the Sotah; by comparison, Numbers 20 only gives 13 verses to Moses' sin of striking the rock, which prevents him from entering the Holy Land.

Ma’ayan: Zalman’s Suite

Yisgadal v'yisgadash sh'mai rabba b'alma dee v'ra chir'usay. For many Jews there comes a time when we will say these words every day, many times a day, for 11 months as part of the process of mourning a parent. We bravely declare, "May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed." Over and over we repeat this plea, this affirmation of the greatness of God who took away our loved one. Our loss becomes the occasion for us to proclaim the glory of God's name found in His creation, the very world around us.

American and Biblical Forefathers

Malcah Zeldis' watercolor painting "Jacob's Dream" (1982) is the only representation I know of the patriarch that represents him as bearded man with no moustache. The pink-skinned dreamer in Zeldis' painting wears a robe that evokes the technicolored dream coat his son Joseph would wear, and he sleeps on a hill using what the Bible describes as rocks (but Zeldis renders more as books) for pillows. In the background of the work, which belongs to the genre of na?ve art, one can spot the bundles of grain and the celestial objects that would later figure into Joseph's dream. As Jacob dreams of the changing of the angelic guard, Zeldis seems to say, he lays the foundation for Joseph's dreams of his own rise to power. The angels that ascend and descend the "ladder" - which is very flimsy and would surely not comply with fire codes - are red-headed and blue-eyed, and their wings sag at their sides like sacks over their shoulders.

Majzner’s Illuminated Torah

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.

David Levine, 1924 – 2009: A Satirist Who Loved His Species

At a parent-teacher conference, one of my high school bible instructors told my mother I was well behaved and sat quietly in the back of the room. "If he is sitting quietly in class," my mother assured the rabbi, "he is either reading a book or drawing." She was right. My primary high school achievements were my ravenous readings of philosophy and literature and the few hundred copies I made of David Levine's brilliant pen-and-ink caricatures, which filled several sketchbooks. I was too young to get most of his political references, but when they were explained to me, I laughed genuinely and hysterically.

David Levine, 1924

At a parent-teacher conference, one of my high school bible instructors told my mother I was well behaved and sat quietly in the back of the room. "If he is sitting quietly in class," my mother assured the rabbi, "he is either reading a book or drawing." She was right. My primary high school achievements were my ravenous readings of philosophy and literature and the few hundred copies I made of David Levine's brilliant pen-and-ink caricatures, which filled several sketchbooks. I was too young to get most of his political references, but when they were explained to me, I laughed genuinely and hysterically.

Geographical Silhouettes

Per Deuteronomy 21, when a corpse is found in the wilderness, an elaborate ceremony ensues that is clearly intended to disrupt the regular routines of the townspeople living nearby. The judges and elders determine which city is closest to the crime scene, and the elders of that city take a young calf, which has never been yoked, to a dismal valley, which could never sustain agricultural life, where they break the calf's neck. The Levites then arrive to observe the elders washing their hands over the bloody calf and declaring, "Our hands did not spill this blood, nor did our eyes perceive it. Therefore, God, forgive your people Israel, whom You redeemed, and do not allow innocent blood to flow amongst your nation, and let this blood atone for them."

Israeli Art: Of Lands And The Land

Sotheby's recent annual auction of Israeli art was given an extra dimension this year with a large selection from the Phoenix Insurance Company, Ltd.'s collection - one of the largest, most comprehensive collections of Israeli art in the world, spanning from the founding of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem in 1906 through to the present day. The selection at Sotheby's did not include this entire range. It was limited to smaller, more accessible works (there were no purely conceptual works, for example), and contained almost no sculpture, with the notable exception of Israel Prize-winner Danziger's brass Chariot.

Siona Benjamin’s Blue Angels

A blue-skinned woman with at least one wing carries a caged dove in her right hand and has just released a golden bird from her other hand. Her hair is covered by a shawl that rests over a curved dagger (like the Yemenite jambiya) with a sheath decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag. A corner of the shawl becomes a pair of tzitzit whose strings are wrapped around a lion's arms and midsection, perhaps restraining it. The woman, who represents a self-portrait of the artist Siona Benjamin, stands on a white ball, which unravels to reveal not string but floral patterns that border the painting. Beneath her yellow skirt, the woman wears striped pants that evoke either the uniform of a prisoner or a concentration camp inmate.

As Memories Fade, Photos Testify

More than half a century has passed since the Holocaust. As the number of survivors dwindles, even as the amount of documentation grows, there has been a shift in focus from recording the facts to working out how we can relate to these facts. As the generation of eyewitnesses passes, we are entering an era that must deal with the problem of memory without access to direct experience. Yad VaShem's recent refurbishment is a manifestation of this shift, and the new focus can be felt across the spectrum.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/blooms-bittersweet-vision-paintings-by-lloyd-bloom-2/2010/06/09/

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