web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Schatz’s Gambit

Tunisian Boy (late 1930s), silver cast plaque with filigree silver frame by Moshe Murro Collection of Ira and Brigitte Rezak

Tunisian Boy (late 1930s), silver cast plaque with filigree silver frame by Moshe Murro Collection of Ira and Brigitte Rezak

Almsgiving (ca. 1925) lithograph postcard by Meir Gur-Arie Collection of Ira and Brigitte Rezak

Lithograph postcards for tourists were a potent and public expression of the Bezalel School’s ideas about the nature of Jewish settlement of Palestine. As public displays of Zionist sensibility they could simultaneously promote their ideas abroad and confirm their worldview at home. Meir Gur-Arie produced a beautiful set of silhouettes of Palestine around 1925 and continued to specialize in them in the years to come. “Ya–Halili” (“Oh, My Flute” in Hebrew or “Oh, Make my World Sweet” as an Arabic love song), pictures the shepherd flutist in a vision of almost pagan but romantic rural life. At the Well is likewise an image of the simplicity of age-old peasantry with the faithful shepherd providing water by hand for his flock. It is important to note that the Zionist programs of agricultural communities, aka kibbutzim, increasingly using mechanical and automated means, were effectively designed to end this primitive way of life forever. Also typical of this work is his romantic view of Palestinian Judaism. In Almsgiving the classic virtue of giving charity is encapsulated in a silhouette image of a Yemenite Jew receiving tzedakah from a young Ashkenazi. In its simplistic way the image both confirms the European hegemony over oriental Jews and the everlasting needy role of pious Jewry in Palestine. Both issues have continued to haunt the Zionist enterprise.

In December 1918, Boris Schatz was forced into exile in the Galilee by the Turks just as the British liberated Jerusalem. For 2 years he could not return to the Bezalel School he had founded. During that time he wrote a utopian novella, Jerusalem Rebuilt. His bizarre vision of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel in the year 2018 combined socialism, “science fiction, traditional Jewish belief, euthanasia, free love, communal ownership of property, moving sidewalks, solar energy and a rebuilt Third Temple.” Equally fantastic was his vision that fully 30% of the population would be engaged in artistic production and that this would be the nation’s principle industry! Most telling is Ze’ve Raban’s drawing for the cover of Schatz’s book that shows the confrontation between Schatz and the original Bezalel ben Uri, casually leaning against the famous Raban menorah (copied from the biblical model) on the roof of the Bezalel building. Again the biblical confronts the contemporary, but the reality as it unfolded is of course much more complex than either.

Jerusalem Rebuilt (1924) cover illustration by Ze’ev Raban Collection of the Israel Museum

Israel has not become an industrial artistic complex. The agrarian shepherd model has only persisted in the most backward portions of Israeli society. While aspects of pious Judaism in fact hewed to the ancient model, nonetheless many Jews adopted a much more modern, progressive and productive piety. And perhaps most tellingly, the original Bezalel School went bankrupt in 1929, and three years later its founder tragically died while fundraising in America.

Boris Schatz’s concept of Jewish nationalist art, though visionary and an expression of an aspect of early Zionism ultimately did not reflect the historical reality as it unfolded in his time. According to Israeli art historian Dr. Gideon Ofrat, Schatz’s Bezalel was “divorced from the dynamic development of the Jewish community in Palestine, and equally remote from the languages of modern European art…was doomed to an early end.” Perhaps more to the point was that aspects of the Bezalel project had a greater belief in simple Zionism than in the content of Judaism or the uniquely Jewish struggle to reclaim our ancient homeland in exclusively Jewish terms.

(I am indebted to curator David Wachtel for his learned exhibition notes and wall texts)

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

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 “Schatz’s Gambit”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
funny rocket joke
Israel Retaliates: Hits Terror Infrastructure Targets
Latest Sections Stories
Games-121914

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

South-Florida-logo

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

South-Florida-logo

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

The NHS was also honored to have Bob Diener as keynote speaker.

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

“The secret to a good donut is using quality ingredients and the ability to be patient and give them time to proof.”

I so desperately want to have a loving relationship with my stepsons.

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of American Independence.

Because you can’t have kids pouring huge jugs of oil into tiny glasses, unless you want to turn your house into an environmental disaster.

Try these with your kids; there’s something for every age group and once all the recipes are made, dinner will be ready!

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

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/schatzs-gambit/2012/06/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: