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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘museum’

‘Mrs. Carl Meyer and her Children’ at the Jewish Museum

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

When John Singer Sargent’s 1896 magisterial painting, “Mrs. Carl Meyer and her Children,” depicting Adèle Meyer with her children Elsie Charlotte and Frank Cecil, was first shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1897, Henry James wrote in Harper’s Weekly, “Of these elements Mr. Sargent has made a picture of a knock-down insolence of talent and truth of characterization, a wonderful rendering of life, of manners, of aspects, of types, of textures, of everything.”

Seductive, flamboyant, and deeply revealing, this lushly painted portrait captures the world of a privileged family of English Jews who lived more than a century ago.

Sir Carl Ferdinand Meyer was born in Hamburg, Germany, the second son of Siegmund Meyer and Elise Rosa Hahn daughter of Reuben Hahn. He became a naturalized British subject in 1877. In 1883 he married Adèle Levis, daughter of Julius Levis of Hampstead, and they had a son, Frank Cecil Meyer, and a daughter.

Meyer worked first for the Rothschild family as their chief clerk and negotiator with the De Beers mining group. He then went on to work for De Beers and became deputy chairman of the company. He was also governor of the National Bank of Egypt, and member of the board of numerous mining companies. He was also a board member of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). He was given the title of baronet in 1910.

Meyer had a great interest in the arts, showing support for opera, music and the theatre. In 1909 he donated 70,000 pounds to the Shakespeare National Memorial Theatre, now rebuilt as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. During World War I, prompted by a suggestion by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero that Britons of German origin should speak out publicly, Meyer wrote to The Times expressing his disapproval of the tactics used by the Germans in the war, including the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. No dual loyalties there.

As a society hostess known for her exuberant soirées, enchanting voice, and support of the arts, Lady Meyer was also a socially concerned philanthropist supporting working class women, underprivileged families, and women’s suffrage.

On loan from the Tate Britain in London, it has been more than 10 years since this painting was last on view in the US. The exhibition highlights this remarkable work—contextualizing it with other family portraits, family photographs, personal correspondence and domestic memorabilia, as well as satirical imagery from popular culture that relates to both the Meyer family and John Singer Sargent.

In the Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, NYC, through February 5, 2017.

JNi.Media

The Knesset Museum That Almost Didn’t Happen

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Like the original Mishkan, until it found its current, permanent location the Knesset traveled a bit.

Before 1949, the Knesset met in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Dizengoff House (today Independence Hall), and in the “Kessem” movie house located at Knesset Square. On 26 December 1949, the Knesset moved to Jerusalem, where it held its first meetings in the Jewish Agency’s impressive semi-circular building in Rehavia.

In 1950, the Knesset moved to the Froumine (Frumin) House on 24 King George Street in Jerusalem, which was originally supposed to be a bank. It met there from 1950 to 1966, until it finally moved to where the Knesset building is located today, in Givat Ram in Jerusalem.

Exterior of the Froumine House.

Exterior of the Froumine House. Photo by: switch_1010

Here’s where the story gets silly.

Ze'ev Sherf, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Haim-Moshe Shapira sitting at the government table in the Chamber at Froumine House - 1952

Ze’ev Sherf, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Haim-Moshe Shapira sitting at the government table in the Chamber at Froumine House – 1952

After 1966, the government used the building to house different government offices.

In 2002, the government sold the building to a private investor for 10 million shekels.

But the government then realized it still needed the building for its government offices, so it began renting the building back from the new owner.

The new owner decided he wanted to tear down the old Knesset building and build a 16-story project on the site. He filed the papers, but the Council for The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) protested and the project was halted.

The government then decided to buy the building back from the new owner for 45 million shekel (not a bad investment at all for that private owner).

In 2010, the government completed the repurchase and passed a law that the building and its interior must be preserved.

And now they are turning it into the Knesset Museum.

Knesset Museum Exterior Construction 2

Photo of the Day

Painter Jonasz Stern’s ‘Landscape after the Holocaust’ in Krakow Museum

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

The recorded testimony of Jonasz Stern at the Yad Vashem digital collection relates: “Testimony of Jonasz Stern, born in Kalusz, Poland, 1904, regarding his experiences in the Lvov Ghetto, his rescue from shooting in killing pits during the liquidation of the Lvov Ghetto, in hiding, in Budapest, in Romania, and in other places.”

The transcribed account follows:

“Escape from Krakow to Lvov with his wife, at the outbreak of the war; move from apartment to apartment, after the occupation of Lvov; deportation to the Lvov Ghetto, November 1941; Lvov Ghetto life including overcrowding, hunger and the lack of means of existence; “Aktion,” August 1942; obtains Aryan documents for his wife, and her move to Stryj; capture of the witness, May 1943; deportation to Janowska camp with 3,000 Jews; concentration of thousands of Jews in a field for two days, without food or water, and shooting into the crowd by the Germans; transfer of 7,000 men, women and children who are naked, in railroad cars to Belzec; escape from the train through a window which he broke when they were 6.5 kilometers from Lvov; return to the Lvov Ghetto for ten days, until the liquidation of the ghetto; deportation of thousands of Jews to Janowska camp, mid-June 1943; transfer of the Jews to the killing site in Hyclowa Gorka, the next day; escape from the shooting pit, after ten hours among the corpses of the dead and the wounded people; hides in fields and in a forest, and receives help from the local farmers, in particular from Poles from Poznan who resided in Sknilow; return to Lvov, and hides with the help of Polish friends; move to Rozniatow by train; walks on foot through the mountains and illegally crosses the border into Hungary; he is attacked by a shepherd before crossing the border, who beats him and steals his belongings; move to the Hungarian side, after wanderings in the mountains for eight days; arrival to Budapest with the help of local people; life under the protection of the Polish Committee, until the German occupation of Hungary; move to Romania, summer 1944; capture by the Gestapo, and release after the intervention of Endre Laszlo, a commander of the Hungarian Gendarmerie in a town near Budapest; life in Budapest; liberation by the Red Army.”

The account concludes with the following heartbreaking lines: “Receives information regarding the return of his wife to Krakow during the war, and that she willingly presented herself to the Gestapo, due to her lack of means of existence and exhaustion.”

Other than that, Painter Jonasz Stern left a permanent mark on the Polish art of the 20th century. Before the war, he was a member of the first Grupa Krakowska (Krakow Group), and in 1957 he co-founded Grupa Krakowska II, with members including Maria Jarema and Tadeusz Kantor. These were the two most significant artistic formations in Poland. The pre-war Group experimented with form and manifested its left-wing stance, the majority of members affiliated to the KPP, the Communist Party of Poland.

After the war had erupted, Stern fled from Krakow to Lvov. Of his paintings only one remains, the Nude Study from 1935, which is now part of the collection of the National Museum in Krakow.

After the war, Stern became a philosopher, reflecting on life, its transience and dignity. In his assemblages, he expressed his thoughts using simple symbols: scrunched-up fabric, animal and fish bones, stones, netting and – occasionally – photographs. The drama of his paintings is entirely devoid of pathos. Stern created a universe of abstract landscapes left by a world annihilated.

Jonasz Stern – Landscape after the Holocaust

Aug. 5 – Sep. 25 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK), 4 Lipowa St. 30-702 Kraków, Poland. Tuesday–Sunday 11 AM – 7 PM, Monday – closed. phone +48 12 263 40 00.

JNi.Media

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education Buys Permanent Facilities

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education Executive Director Judy Margles and Board Chair Elaine Coughlin last week announced the signing of a purchase agreement for the facilities at 724 NW Davis in Portland—formerly the home of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Margles wrote the following announcement:

As our closest circle of friends, I am excited to share something very special with you. OJMCHE is purchasing a new home, a 14,500 square foot unit in the De Soto building at 724 NW Davis Street (formerly the Museum of Contemporary Craft). I am also thrilled to tell you that we achieved the purchase of the building with the hard work of the OJMCHE Board and in particular outgoing chair, David Newman. This is the moment where we have finally fulfilled our vision and secured our mission for generations to come.

How did we get to this momentous possibility? July will already mark the two-year anniversary of the merger with Oregon Holocaust Resource Center. The merger enriched our institution in countless ways – we expanded our education staff to include a Holocaust educator, we are proud stewards of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, we bring thousands of school children to both the Memorial and museum, and, of course, we continue to be the community repository for the Jewish experience in Oregon. Most importantly, we have deepened our focus on Jewish values and traditions, while working even more strenuously to bring our work to the wider community as a vehicle that can unite all people in their common humanity. In short, the merger has greatly expanded and fundamentally strengthened our core mission.

And now we have the opportunity to take the next step in our evolution. In a stroke of great luck, the fortuitous arrival on the market of this building became the perfect space for our museum. While this was an unexpected opportunity, we were ready to receive it because of the long-range feasibility planning that we undertook this last year. This space—purpose-built as a contemporary museum with ample room for exhibits, programs, school groups, collections and archives—perfectly matches the needs detailed in our feasibility report.

I am also thrilled to tell you that we achieved the purchase of the building with the tremendous support of three lead gifts from Renee and Irwin Holzman, Lois and Leonard Schnitzer Family and The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Arlene Schnitzer & Jordan Schnitzer. To date we have received a total of 33 gifts to make this phase of the campaign possible. For this generosity and sign of confidence, we are immensely grateful. Our community campaign, to raise funds for operating reserves and move-in costs, will commence shortly and I look forward to engaging each and every one of you in our endeavors.

Now that our dreams are becoming reality, we shall start to focus on the use of the space. I can share with you our basic conception: we will have state-of-the art storage for our archives and collection; a café; a gift shop; a multi-purpose auditorium for public programs and school groups; two floors of exhibit galleries with temporary exhibits on the first floor; and on the second space for core exhibits about the Oregon Jewish experience, discrimination in Oregon and the history of the Holocaust using stories of local survivors.

The coming months may prove to be the most significant in our history. An exciting consensus is emerging among museum professionals. We see successful museums of the future as places where people can hang out and engage in real and diverse social issues to make a genuine difference in their lives: these museums of the future will blur boundaries between the inside of the museum walls and what occurs outside, where programs will address a rich variety of living community concerns, while always recognizing, remembering and honoring the past. These museums will link historical experiences of the past with needs of the living present.

I want our museum to be such a museum: a broker and filter of perspectives and shared wisdom, a repository for traditional learning and historical scholarship, and also a stimulus for creative thinking on the way forward for our community. I want us to represent the full plurality of voices in our community and I want our programs to address a full range of community concerns.

We, this circle of friends, now share a magically rare opportunity: to help each other make our beloved Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education thrive, in all these many and varied ways, for many, many years to come.

Warmly,

Judy Margles

Executive Director

JNi.Media

Pushkin Museum Exhibition Celebrating Leon Bakst’s 150th Birthday

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The Pushkin State Museum of Arts in Moscow is featuring an exhibition dedicated to the 150th birthday of Léon Bakst (1866–1924). Bakst was a Russian theatrical designer, painter, portraitist, book illustrator, interior designer and fashion designer in the 1910s and 20s. He published numerous articles on contemporary design and dance, was also interested in photography and the cinema, and wrote an autobiographical novel. Being fond of the art of Ancient Greece and the Orient, Bakst’s art merged classical motifs with the eccentricity of Art Nouveau.

Bakst was born in Grodno (today Belarus), to a middle-class Jewish family. His grandfather was an exceptional tailor, good enough to receive a special post from the Czar, and owned a large mansion in Saint Petersburg. After his parents had moved to Moscow, Léon would visit his grandfather’s house every Saturday, later reporting how impressed by it he had been as a youngster and how much pleasure he experienced there. At the age of twelve, Léon won a drawing contest and decided to become a painter, but his parents did not support his decision. He nevertheless studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts as a noncredit student, because he had failed the entry exams, working part-time as a book illustrator. He was eventually admitted in 1883, at the tender age of 17.

Bakst's Self-portrait, 1893

Bakst’s Self-portrait, 1893

At the time of his first exhibition (1889) Léon took the surname Bakst, derived from his mother’s maiden name, seeing as his father’s surname, Rosenberg, wasn’t helping his career in Russia’s art world. In 1893 he moved to Paris, studying at the Académie Julian, but still visiting his grandfather in Saint Petersburg often. In 1899, he co-founded with Sergei Diaghilev the influential periodical Mir Iskusstva, or World of Art. His graphics for this publication brought him great fame.

Bakst preferred to live in western Europe because, as a Jew, he did not have the right to live permanently outside the Pale of Settlement. During his visits to Saint Petersburg he taught in Zvantseva’s school, where one of his students was Marc Chagall.

Beginning in 1909, Bakst worked mostly as stage-designer, designing sets for Greek tragedies, and, in 1908, he made a name for himself as a scene-painter for Diaghilev with the Ballets Russes. In 1914, Bakst was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts. In 1922, Bakst broke off his relationship with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.

Girl in kokoshnik - Léon Bakst

Girl in kokoshnik – Léon Bakst

Bakst visited Baltimore in 1922, staying with his friend and patron, art philanthropist Alice Warder Garrett. Having met in Paris in 1914, when Mrs. Garrett was accompanying her diplomat husband in Europe, Bakst soon depended on his new American friend as both a confidante and an agent. Alice Garrett became Bakst’s representative in the United States, organizing two exhibitions of the artist’s work at New York’s Knoedler Gallery, as well as subsequent traveling shows. When in Baltimore, Bakst re-designed Garrett’s dining room in a shocking acidic yellow and ‘Chinese’ red confection. The artist subsequently went on to transform a small gymnasium on the grounds into a colorfully Modernist private theater.

This first retrospective exhibition of the artist to be shown in Russia includes more than 200 paintings, drawings, theatrical costumes and archive photos of Léon Bakst from Russian and Western state and private collections, gathered together by an international group of curators..

In late 2010, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London presented an exhibit of Bakst’s costumes and prints.

JNi.Media

Guggenheim Museum Website Calls Israel “Racist,” Falsely Claims it Censors Art

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

The famous Guggenheim Museum in New York has a blog that says it “tells the Guggenheim’s evolving story, and offers insights on visual culture, urbanism, and the global art world, along with regular discoveries from the archives.”

It recently posted this outrageous piece by Chen Tamir, called “Censorship in Israel:

Over the past two years, the arts in Israel have been increasingly threatened by censorship and draconian government funding proposals. Some see this as the beginning of a culture war not unlike the one endured by the United States during the 1990s, when politicians used arts funding reform as a political tool to curry favor with conservative constituents. Freedom of speech is not treated with the same reverence in Israel as it is in the States; the country was not founded on a constitution that privileges such liberty. (Indeed, there is no Israeli constitution, a fact that some would consider a root cause of its racist and lopsided legal system and civic infrastructure.) The state of stagnation and worsening division in Israel/Palestine further entrenches the occupation, allowing more settlements to be built and inflicting further oppression on Palestinians. The metanarrative in Israel is one of continuous existential fear and victimization, which leads to the increased justification of insularity and nationalism, and the silencing of opposition.

Tamir includes many half-truths and absurd exaggerations as well as a complete disregard for the definition of “censorship.”

The calls for and instances of censorship over the past two years have been both top-down (from government officials) and grassroots (by private citizens calling for the removal of artworks). Some individuals have taken matters into their own hands and established paramilitary organizations that spy on human rights activists and organizations, most notably the extra-political group Im Tirtzu, which recently published a blacklist of “moles”—cultural producers of all stripes who support leftist organizations that they perceive as anti-Zionist.

Im Tirtzu is paramilitary?

And why is art that defames a nation free speech, but compiling a list of people behind that art is “censorship?”

Here’s another example of “censorship”:

Artist-choreographer Arkadi Zaides was criticized for a video and dance work incorporating footage from B’Tselem’s Camera Project (through which cameras are given to Palestinians to document conflicts with the army and neighboring settlers). The Museum of Petach Tikva, which presented the work, was asked by the municipality to close the exhibition early following pressure from a “concerned citizen,” while the Ministry of Culture withdrew its funding from the show (although the exhibition remained open until its scheduled end date a few days after this incident).

So, not a single person was deprived of seeing the show. How is that censorship?

Further examples include the redirection of arts funding to things like the Zionist Art Prize, and right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting as temporary Minister of Education, vetoing the 2015 candidate for the Ministry’s annual literature prize.

That is not censorship either.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev have been responsible for a string of incidents of or attempts at censorship, ranging from the banning of books and plays to a withdrawal of state funding from Jaffa’s Elmina Theater unless its director, Norman Issa, reversed his refusal to perform in a settlement in the West Bank. Regev, who previously served as the chief censor of the Israeli army, recently treated the director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Suzanne Landau (herself recently accused of self-censorship) to a surprise Friday-night phone call to ask about a work of art in a recent exhibition by Uri Katzenstein.

The only thing in this list that is actual censorship is the supposed “banning of books and plays.” Curiously, Tamir doesn’t mention their names, but almost certainly he is referring to the Education Ministry taking an anti-Israel novel off of its reading list as “banning,” which it isn’t. Almost certainly there has been no banning of any play as well.

It takes a while before we find out how Tamir defines “censorship”:  the refusal of a nation to fund art that directly attacks it.

Herein lies the crux of contemporary censorship: funding. As in the American Culture Wars, public funding is being manipulated to become a mechanism of censorship.

That is not censorship by any definition. Making it somewhat more difficult for an artist to make a living from public money is not censorship. I can make art if I want, but if the Guggenheim decides not to make an exhibition of my artwork and the government doesn’t fund me I am not being “censored.” If publishers aren’t interested in my poetry and the BBC refuses to air my play and MTV doesn’t want to air my music videos, I am not being “censored.”

The entire article is a string of lies that simply misuses the meaning of the word “censorship” to falsely paint Israel as a racist society.

The Guggenheim Museum should remove this article. Not because I support censorship – I emphatically do not – but because I do not believe that the museum should publish lies, fabrications and slander. Tamir has the full right to post her lies on her own website and the Guggenheim has the full right to reject publishing a litany of her lies and half-truths.

If supporters of the Guggenheim decide to withhold their funding to show their displeasure for the museum becoming a mouthpiece for anti-Israel propaganda, that isn’t censorship either.

Elder of Ziyon

What If They Built a $24 Million ‘Palestinian Museum’ and There Was Nothing to Show?

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The $24 million Palestinian Museum is slated to open on Wednesday this week in Bir Zeit, about 15 miles north of Jerusalem, a dream that has come true after it had been first initiated in 1997 by the London-based Welfare Association to commemorate the “Nakba,” that fateful gamble local Arabs have taken against the 1947 UN partition resolution, which ended up with them getting nothing at all. But, as the NY Times put it on Monday, the new museum has a stunning, contemporary new building; soaring ambitions as a space for “Palestinian” art, history and culture; an outdoor amphitheater; a terraced garden — and no exhibits.

There was going to be an inaugural exhibit, named “Never Part,” about artifacts belonging to Arab refugees, but it will not be happening, because there was a disagreement between the museum’s board and its director, Jack Persekian, and the director was sacked. Or, as a spokeswoman announced on Sunday: “There will not be any artwork exhibited in the museum at all.”

The NY Times commented that the fate of the exhibition says more about the realities of Arab society than any art collection could have done. The defunct exhibition “Never Part” was going to feature artistic interpretations of keys and photographs that Arab refugees around the world have kept from their old homes in Israel.

The ousted director Persekian told the NY Times the museum’s senior management informed him they no longer liked his project, but never explained why. Persekian said he had collected images of countless artifacts from “Palestinians” around the world for “Never Part,” which he intended to make available to artists who could have interpreted the objects as they saw fit. But the folks in charge of the museum were uneasy about his plan. “Maybe they didn’t want to take a risk with something that is so unpredictable and so uncontrollable,” he said.

All the museum people would say is, “We didn’t feel that what was delivered was up to scratch.”

Now, without any exhibition at all, other than a virtual show starting May 25, which it borrowed from a museum in Beirut, the Palestinian Museum building, designed by Irish architectural firm Heneghan Peng, will host the Wednesday opening ceremony with nothing to show inside. The official version is that the ceremony will only celebrate the completion of the building.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/what-if-they-built-a-24-million-palestinian-museum-and-there-was-nothing-to-show/2016/05/16/

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