Articles in Category: Contemporary Jewish Art

Contemporary Jewish Art

Lipchitz's Prayer

Written on September 07, 2004

Lipchitz's Prayer

No time of prayer is more intense than at Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur as we literally pray for our lives, our sustenance and ultimately, our salvation. Our fate hangs in the balance poised between the gates of mercy and the awesome judgment we fear. No other contemporary sculpture so terrifyingly captures this primal apprehension and hope of the Days of Awe than Jacques Lipchitz's The Prayer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art seen in the recent exhibition “Jacques Lipchitz and Philadelphia.”

A Bitter View
Auschwitz: A Graphic Novel by Pascal Croci

Written on March 31, 2004

Can't You See the Angels?

Pascal Croci's graphic novel, Auschwitz, begins with a question to a witness from Auschwitz-Birkenau; “How long have you been keeping all this to yourself?” The answer, “Fifty-two years,” is shocking. The novel that follows provides a glimpse into the reason why these experiences are almost impossible to speak about. And in doing so Croci uncovers more than a terrible history, he points to an intolerable present.

Torahluminations by Peter Asher Pitzele

Written on March 31, 2004

Ruth and Boaz – collage by Peter Asher Pitzele Courtesy the artist

Whence an image? The awesome power of visual art unleashes meaning, complex and subtle. No wonder halacha warned us of its destructive power in false worship.  And yet we are driven to explore its permissible borders, wondering how to conceive of our narratives and unlock their mysteries in two and three dimensions. Artist Peter Asher Pitzele strives with his work to “open the mind’s eye” even as it gives us sensual pleasure.

Presence and Likeness in Jewish Art

Written on March 31, 2004

Children (2008), oil on canvas & collage by Diana Kurz

Jewish Art is a grass-roots movement whose time has come. It has evolved precisely because there are those who are moved by their Jewish heritage and wish to share this experience with the art world, the general public and the Jewish community. There has never been such an exciting time.

The Whole Megillah
Megillah Esther by David Wander

Written on March 31, 2004

Ahashverous and Memuchan, illumination and calligraphy by David Wander Megillah Esther (2007)

Such a nice story the Megillah Esther is, don’t you think?  The poor Jews are in exile far from home and get into a bit of trouble with God for not being so careful about theirkashrus.  Their only sin was attending a treif banquet the headstrong King Ahashverous made for the whole kingdom.  And then sweet but unlucky Esther gets rounded up and taken to be the King’s queen.

Archie Rand - Jewish Enough

Written on March 25, 2004

I'm Here

This is it. This is the one exhibition that you must see if contemporary Jewish Art matters at all. Archie Rand has been bravely creating radical Jewish art for at the last twenty years, challenging both the contemporary art establishment and the purveyors of Jewish culture. As a consequence of this insolence he has been exiled to what amounts to a critical wilderness. It is time to redeem him from exile, time for the Jewish public to take note and acknowledge the accomplishments of the foremost creator of Jewish art working today. Our cultural future depends upon it.

The Art of Exile - Paintings by Shoshannah Brombacher

Written on January 12, 2004

Iber di Shtadt by Shoshannah Brombacher

Paintings by Shoshannah Brombacher

Exile is punishment; exile is a constant reminder of our fallen status; exile fills us with longings for a permanent home we cannot possess. Paradoxically exile is also where we are most comfortable and where we are most creative with our lives. Exile produced the Talmud, the Zohar, the Rambam and the Shulhan Aruch. Exile, tragically and triumphantly, is still the place of Judaism. The art of Shoshannah Brombacher is a poignant exploration of the art of exile.

Amputation to Wholeness

Written on November 13, 2003

Untitled (1953) oil on canvas by Mark Rothko

A Call to Art from the Torah World

"We have inherited an amputated visual culture, viscously cut off from our artistic forefathers we have every right to lay claim to," exclaimed Archie Rand, artist and professor at Columbia University. In a passionate and articulate account Rand recounted a sweeping history unknown to many. From the Jewish muralists in the third century Dura-Europos synagogue to Camille Pissarro, one of the founders of Impressionism and an important influence on Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne, Jews have played an important role in the visual arts.

The Art of Aging

Written on September 11, 2003

Old Woman in Red (1957-2003) oil on canvas (55 x 42) by Hyman Bloom Courtesy of the artist

Hyman Bloom's haunting painting Old Woman in Red presents us with a central paradigm of aging; its universality. Our past and inevitable future are frequently seen in depictions of the very old. In image after image the exhibition "The Art of Aging" mercilessly presents the undeniable connection between a communal past and our future. The old are living witnesses to the past, to lives lived remarkably like ours. Conversely, the hunched back, wrinkled face and slowed gait is a sure forecast of our future. While many of us will grow old with depressingly similar symptoms this exhibition expansively affirms that old age is considerably more than the portal to death, rather it is seen as expressing every aspect of a vital and creative life.


Sotheby's Tel Aviv

Written on April 09, 2003

Esther’s Child: Epilogue (2001)

Israeli Picture Book

Autour du Coq Rouge (Around the Red Rooster), painted in 1982 by aninety-five year old Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the most famous Jewish artist of the twentieth century, puzzles us with its mysterious loveliness and grace. The Chagall bursts upon us in a passionate torrent, scintillating our visual sensibilities with pinks, hot violets and lush greens that are only partially soothed by the flickering blues of distant skies. The absurdly shaped animals in the center are guarded by three hesitant figures on the left and a gigantic figure with a rooster on the right.   Behind him are a mother and child who seem to levitate above the horizon.  The prone youth in the foreground feeding a little white goat serves as a horizontal balance to the unusual and evocative Provencal landscape above.

Mordechai the Jew

Written on March 10, 2003

Esther and Mordechai

Three Works of Jewish Art

"And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee…(Devorim 28:66). Rav interpreted this as applying to Israel in the time of Haman (Esther Rabbah, Proem). This time may be upon us. There can be no certainty when war is imminent and constant terror threatens our homeland. Three very different artists understand various shades of this perspective as they explicate the role of Mordechai in the Book of Esther.

Fine Judaica at Kestenbaum & Co
imes Of Hope, Seasons Of Despair

Written on March 05, 2003

Gilt Tooled Leather Binding; Chumash published in Antwerp, 1573, (Lot 53) Courtesy of Kestenbaum and Co.

The auction of fine judaica at Kestenbaum & Company unfolds a quilt of diverse Jewish history. As they are auctioned off to the highest bidder, the saga of the Jewish people is traced in these objects and in their stories; from the most scandalous accusations to the most fundamental hope.

Biblical Contentions Paintings by Janet Shafner

Written on February 19, 2003

I'm Here

36 Paintings

Janet Shafner is one of the most exciting and intelligent painters I have come across in many years. As an observant Jewish artist she has chosen Tanach, Midrash, Talmud and its commentaries as her inspiration and subject matter. In crafting her complex images she utilizes a talmudic visual paradigm offering midrashic and/or modern images as a kind of "counter text" that contrasts with her biblical depiction that forms the main visual "text" of most works.

Reflections of Biblical Texts Bradford

Written on December 24, 2002

Twelfth Amidah Theme: Punish Heresy: Jepthah (2002)

A Painting by John Dubrow

From 1997 to 1998 John Dubrow got to know the World Trade Center fairly well. He made many paintings from a high vantage point on the 91st floor in a temporary studio granted him by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. His heavily worked cityscapes built solid compositions out of urban structure, color and space and define an important body of his work at that time. After September 11, 2001 he was, like most New Yorkers, devastated by the attacks and the destruction of the World Trade Center. He wondered how he could return to cityscapes after his city had been so violated and his artistic milieu shattered. In the wake of the smoke, ash and collapse he groped for an artist's response to this mass murder.

Hyman Bloom's Journey

Written on December 18, 2002

Rabbi with Torah

A creative life is laid out before us, how do we understand it? And since it is definitely not finished (the artist is ninety and still painting in a newly constructed studio in Nashua, New Hampshire), it is a travesty to attempt a summation. But we can certainly review what has gone before and speculate how he got to where he is now and what might come next. That is the challenge of the retrospective, Color & Ecstasy: The Art of Hyman Bloom, at the National Academy of Design until December 29, 2002.