web analytics
January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘art’

Heirs of Jewish Art Dealer Sue Bavaria over Works by Beckmann, Klee, Gris

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The heirs of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim have sued the German state of Bavaria in US court over eight paintings by Max Beckmann, Paul Klee and Juan Gris, which they claim were sold under duress in Nazi Germany, The Art Newspaper reported Wednesday.

Flechtheim was one of the most prominent dealers in contemporary art at the time, and as the owner of a contemporary art magazine became a popular example of decadence for the Nazi propaganda. In 1933, Nazi thugs broke up a Flechtheim auction, and shortly thereafter a Nazi art dealer named Alexander Vömel confiscated Flechtheim’s gallery in Düsseldorf. The Nazis “aryanized” Flechtheim’s private collection as well as the contents of his gallery. He fled to London soon after Hitler had seized power and died in exile in 1937.

The eight paintings in question, with an estimated shared value of $20 million, are now in the possession of the Bavarian State Paintings Collection, which claims that Flechtheim sold the paintings in question legally. The late art dealer’s heirs argue that all eight works were sold after 1933, and under duress. They accuse Bavaria and the German government of withholding estate documents of Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt which could help clarify the paintings’ status.

Flechtheim’s great-nephew Mike Hulton, from California, accuses the Bavarian authorities of refusing to listen and to talk to the heirs, which “leaves us with no other option but to go to court here. It is past time for Bavaria to do the right thing.”

The paintings in question are Beckmann’s Duchess of Malvedi (1926), Still Life With Cigar Box (1926), Still Life With Studio Window (1931), Dream—Chinese Fireworks (1927), Champagne Still Life (1929), Quappi in Blue (1926), Jug and Glass on a Table (1916) by Gris, and Klee’s Limits of Understanding (1927).

The Limbach Commission, a panel set up by the German government in compliance with the 1998 Washington Principles on returning Nazi-looted art in public collections, has already issued a recommendation against returning another painting by Gris that used to hang in Flechtheim’s Berlin apartment and today hangs in a Düsseldorf museum, ruling that the sale of the painting in London in 1934 was not a result of Nazi persecution.


Cinema Jenin Shutting Down, Dashing Hopes for Culture, Art, in Suspicious City

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

In August 2011, Cinema Jenin, with 335 seats and funding from the German Government, opened its doors to the public in a glamorous gala event that attracted international celebrities like Roger Waters and Bianca Jagger (they showed a movie called The Heart of Jenin about Israeli cruelty in the wake of an explosion that took out a Netanya hotel on the seder night). On Wednesday this week it closed down after running out of money.

According to AFP, demolition work has begun on the Cinema Jenin building, after the management team had failed to attract enough customers to allow it to continue operations. German director Marcus Vetter told AFP “it is a very disappointing and sad moment,” revealing that the original owners’ heirs had sold the place for $1.8 million.

The Cinema Jenin website related the heartwarming story of cooperation between the management team and a group of young and old people from Jenin who were going to receive technical training to run the cinema eventually. Cinema Jenin also offered film and theatre workshops, supported by “local and international partners” to get more people involved in the cinema.

And just to be able to pay the rent, Cinema Jenin also planned to become a venue for local plays, concerts, and even weddings.

Roger Waters at a fundraising event for Cinema Jenin

Roger Waters at a fundraising event for Cinema Jenin

Vetter told AFP the failure was due to a mix of local conservative attitudes and a fear that attending shows there would be tantamount to accepting Israeli “occupation.” “People were not ready to really go there. They were also maybe a little bit scared how it would be perceived if they go,” he explained.

According to news reports of the time, many locals boycotted the cinema because unmarried men and women drank alcohol and even slept together in the guest house that was attached to Cinema Jenin. In 2011 death threats were circulated in Jenin mosques, and many foreign nationals were ordered to stay off the Cinema Jenin project at the request of their governments.


First Jewish Members Appointed to Germany’s Nazi Looted Art Panel

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Gary Smith, former director of the American Academy in Berlin, and Raphael Gross, director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig, have been appointed by German Culture Minister Monika Grütters as the first Jewish members of the Limbach Commission, established in 2003 to mediate in Nazi-looted art ownership disputes, The Art Newspaper reported.

The commission surprised the art world in 2014 when it concluded that the sale of the $250 million Guelph Treasure, a 40-piece trove of Medieval goldsmith works, which had been forced out of several German-Jewish art dealers from Frankfurt by Prime Minister Hermann Göring, “was not a compulsory sale due to persecution.”

And last March, Grütters faced shocked protests after telling the New York Times that if a Jew is appointed to the commission his “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” Needless to say, it didn’t play so good in New York City.

Minister Grütters is also introducing an increase in transparency to the workings of the commission, including a promise to publish its schedule and the reasons for its decisions. She also instituted a ten-year limit on members’ terms in office, and she plans to authorize the generation of provenance reports when necessary, paid for by the government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the reforms last week.

“I expect all German museums without exception to be willing to subject disputes to the Advisory Commission as a matter of course,” Grütters said. Unlike its Dutch and Austrian equivalents, the German Nazi Loot commission can only be called if both sides of a dispute agree.

David Israel

German Frozen Pizza Maker Reveals Nazi Art Loot in Company Collection

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Dr. Oetker, a German outfit that produces baking powder, cake mixes, yogurts, frozen pizza, pudding, cake decoration, and cornflakes, announced it had discovered four works in the company art collection that have been stolen from Jews by the Nazis, The Art Newspaper reported Monday. Dr. Oetker said it had contacted the heirs of the original Jewish owners to discuss a settlement.

According to an official statement, the Dr. Oetker collection includes several hundred paintings, silver and porcelain, mostly acquired in the 1950s by billionaire Rudolf-August Oetker, owner of the private food company Oetker-Gruppe, who died in 2007. Back in 2015, the company assigned a provenance researcher to investigate its art collection, following a study of Dr. Oetker’s history during the Third Reich.

The company was founded by Doctor August Oetker in 1891, to produce “Backin” baking powder. Rudolf-August Oetker was the grandson of Dr. August Oetker. He ran the company from 1944 to 1981.

“The goal is to check whether works in the collection were originally owned by people who were persecuted by the Nazis,” Dr Oetker said in an October 26 statement, adding that if any of the works is identified as Nazi loot, a settlement would be reached with the heirs of the original owners.

Four works have already been identified as looted by the Nazis, but a spokesman for Dr. Oetker did not identify them, due to confidentiality agreements with the heirs. The spokesman also would not discuss the private collection, which rarely loans works to museums or galleries.


The Art Of Sukkot

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Sukkot is a holiday that readily lends itself to broad artistic expression, with particular focus on the special mitzvot so intimately associated with the yom tov – beginning, of course, with the sukkah and the arba minim and ending with hoshanot and Simchat Torah. Many of our greatest artists have produced striking graphic works on these subjects; what follows is a selection of original artwork from my Sukkot collection.


front-page-011416-rabanExhibited here is an original sketch by Zev Raban portraying hoshanot in the synagogue, as worshippers march around the bimah holding their lulavim and etrogim.

Raban (1890-1970) was one of the most important artists and designers in pre-state Eretz Yisrael. Recognizing that the traditional European style did not fit newly emerging Jewish art, he integrated European techniques with specifically Jewish themes. Drawing freely from a variety of styles, including Classical and Art Nouveau, he developed a unique representation of Jewish themes with ornamental calligraphic script and other decorative designs that ultimately came to be characterized as the “Bezalel style.”

Raban’s work, which closely follows the historical events of the building of the Jewish state, reflected his desire to strengthen the identity of Medinat Yisrael through the revival of symbolic Jewish mystical art. He was actively involved in the culture of the emerging nation, encouraging tourism through posters, illustrating primers for teaching Hebrew, and designing attractive functional objects to instill Jewish content into Jewish homes.

He became renowned for his portrayals of beautiful Israeli landscapes, holy places, biblical tales, and people, principally Yemenites, whom he adopted as a model for the biblical figure. His prominent works include sculptures for the YMCA building in Jerusalem (1934); the brass doors for the Nathan Strauss Health House (1928); various pieces for the Bezalel Building, Bikur Cholim Hospital, and the National Bank; and the ceramic tiles that decorate many buildings in Tel Aviv.

Raban was educated in a Polish cheder before studying art, first in his hometown of Lodz and later in Munich, Paris, and Brussels. Upon his arrival in Lodz in 1911, he heard about a Bezalel School arts and crafts exhibition there and met with several new olim, whose enthusiasm for Eretz Yisrael proved contagious. He met Boris Schatz in Paris and accepted his invitation to teach at Bezalel, arriving in Eretz Yisrael in 1912. Initially appointed director of the brass and copper repousse department (1914), he ultimately became interim director of the school.

Sadly, at the end of his very productive life Raban became blind and suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

* * * * *


Joseph Budko (1880-1840), who leaned first toward art nouveau and later toward expressionism, created a whole new Jewish iconography ranging from Zionist symbols to representations of the shtetl of his youth. Developing a unique style that integrated Jewish tradition with a modern artistic approach, he was among an influential group of graphic Jewish artists who embraced the revival of the woodcut. Like his teacher and mentor, Hermann Struck (see below), he used etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs to revive the use of graphic and book illustration in the Jewish art world.

With its unique combination of line and form, Budko’s work reflected the emergence of early twentieth century Expressionism, which used the sharp contrast of black and white and hard, dramatic cuts as an expressive style. He is credited with reviving the spirit of Jewish book illustration and elevating it to modern design.

Budko’s works include woodcarvings illustrating biblical events; decorations for the books of Agnon, Bialik, and others; and numerous etchings and lithographs. In 1923 he published the first modern Hebrew haggadah with woodcuts and the first book in which the Hebrew letters are presented in traditional yet newly developed ornamentation.

He developed his famous “Budko” script in response to a request from a Bezalel committee for a modernization of Hebrew script for teaching in grade schools.

Exhibited here is an original Budko miniature etching, Simchat Torah (1919). The central design is an open Torah scroll, within which a number of white-bearded elderly Jews hold Torah scrolls, presumably during the hakafot ceremony. The four corner banners, beginning with the banner at the upper right and continuing counterclockwise, contains the verse “sisu vsimchu bSimchat Torah” – “rejoice and be happy on Simchat Torah.”

Born in Plonsk, Poland, Budko was educated in a cheder there and entered art school in Vilna in 1902 before moving to Berlin at age 22 to study with Herman Struck. He eventually fled Germany, immigrated to Eretz Yisrael, and was appointed the first head of the reopened Bezalel School of Arts in Jerusalem two years later (a position he held until his death), where he took advantage of the talent of the many new European immigrants to Eretz Yisrael and succeeded in revitalizing the school. His aliyah and his great love for Eretz Yisrael impelled creation of a new and independent Jewish artistic expression.

* * * * *


Alphonse Levy (1843-1918), affectionately called “the Millet of the Jews,” was struck by the beauty and majesty of Jewish worship and tradition, which formed the core of the subject matter of his works and which he infused with a rare combination of whimsy and love.

Born into a family of strictly observant Jews, he grew up in a rural village in Alsace and, though he moved to Paris at age 17, his best known works remain the exaggerated yet affectionate depictions of the rural Jewish community of his childhood. Much like Rembrandt, who often painted the Jews of Amsterdam and whom he studied and admired, Levy sought his subjects from Jewish people of modest means, such as the pious ones of his family’s villages in Alsace and Lorraine:


When I was a child, I was not rocked by the song of the nightingale, but I was struck by the beauty and magic of the worship of the religion to which I belong. I was only looking for my models among the little people among the native and pious villages…. my models have not crossed the limits of their villages of Alsace and Lorraine, where my family lives…

Saul Jay Singer

Soul Talk – The Art of Living in the Now! [audio]

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Time is one of those factors that we are all aware of as a reality in our life, but how much do we really understand it? Is time real or a perception? Why is it that sometimes that time seems to pass so quickly, at other times so slowly? How does the Torah explain the concept of time? Finally, within my day to day life, how can I more fully live in the now instead of getting stuck in the past or thinking to much about the future? Join Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel on Soul Talk to get learn the art of living in the NOW! We welcome your questions and e-mails: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com

Israel News Talk Radio

Talk About Art, Change Your Life

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

“I wandered for a time looking for what was always right there” – Astrid Daley


Do you notice the things around you?

Do you really see the homes, stores, and buildings that you pass every day?

How well do you truly see?

Art Historian Amy Herman’s new book Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life argues that most of us do not notice the things around us. We do not really see the homes, stores, and buildings we pass every day. And we do not truly see well.

For many years, Herman has been teaching a workshop at the Frick Museum in New York City entitled “The Art of Perception.” The workshop began when she brought a course created by a dermatology professor at Yale University to New York medical schools. This course taught students to analyze works of art in order to improve their patient observation skills. In other words, students looked at works of art and described the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the object. Shockingly, a clinical study found that students who took the “The Art of Perception” course had diagnostic skills that were 56 percent better than students who did not take the course. The presumably unrelated skill of observing art correlated with the skill of diagnosing patient illness.

Herman’s work poses and then answers the questions: “How can looking at Monet’s water lily paintings help save your company millions? How can noticing people’s footwear foil a terrorist attack? How can your choice of adjective win an argument, calm your children, or catch a thief?”

In reality, we all see just fine, but what Herman teaches and refines is visual intelligence – a set of skills that we are born with but do not know how to use effectively. Looking at art and describing what we see, helps sharpen our visual intelligence and communicate more effectively.

Over the last two decades, Herman has trained police officers, business executives, medical professionals, and customer service representatives in the art of perception. Of course, Herman understands the skepticism involved in using works of art to train people to do their jobs in very different fields. “Looking at old painting and sculptures is definitely not the first thing most people think of when I tell them we’re going to get their neurons firing and increase their brain-processing speed. They picture engaging in cutting-edge 3D computerized training or at least wearing Google glasses while walking down a busy street, not strolling through a museum viewing objects that have sat still for hundreds of years. But that’s exactly the point: art doesn’t walk away. If you want to study human behavior, you can park yourself somewhere public and people watch: guess at who they are, why they’re dressed that way, where they’re going…until they leave. And you’ll never know if you’re right or wrong. Or you could analyze words of art that we have the answers to: the who, what, where, when, and why. Art historian David Joselit describes art as ‘exorbitant stockpiles of experience and information.’ It contains everything we need to hone our observation, perception, and communication expertise.”

Looking at art forces us to engage in an entirely new thought process. Research shows that people learn best when they are in a slightly stressful situation (which novel experiences like looking at art can create). Therefore, perhaps the best way to reevaluate and reassess something we always do – the way we parent, the way we interact with others, the way we do our jobs, or the way we view the world around us – is “to step outside of ourselves, and outside of our comfort zone.”

Rifka Schonfeld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/talk-about-art-change-your-life/2016/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: