Articles in Category: Museums / Auction Houses

Museums / Auction Houses

Bonhams & Sotheby's Judaica 2013

Written on December 20, 2013

Hagar - Abel Pann
It is a rare season indeed when two major auction houses are showing not only resplendent offerings of Judaica, but also multiple examples of highly unusual and rare Jewish themed fine art.  That is indeed the case right now both at Sotheby’s December 19th auction and the Bonhams recent December 10th auction.

Lilith by Siona Benjamin

Written on July 14, 2011

Siona Benjamin’s exhibition “Finding Home: The Art of Siona Benjamin” is simply beautiful.  Set in the spacious lobby gallery of the JCC Manhattan, it allows for a peaceful (when the kids, nannies and crowds subside) contemplation of this complex artist’s meditations on biblical women, war, exoticism and contemporary society.  

Siona Benjamin’s Megillas Esther

Written on March 24, 2011

Hanging Haman's Sons
There is nothing funny about Siona Benjamin’s Megillas Esther (2010).  Unlike some contemporary illuminated megillas that emphasize the absurd and outlandish nature of the corrupt Persian court and the buffoonish character of the king, Benjamin takes the Book of Esther quite seriously.  She is obviously deeply sensitive to the terrible consequences of God’s hester panim (hidden face) in our own time.

Learning to Count: Omer Counter by Judith Margolis
Published by

Written on June 04, 2009

Margolis Omer Counter
I am still counting. But when you, dear reader, see this, you will have finished, having safely arrived at Matan Torah.  Nonetheless, even if you meditated deeply each and every day, the fact is that we still need to count, and ponder the myriad paths of spiritual elevation that Hashem continues to offer us.   If we could just become a bit more aware of them.  Judith Margolis’ Omer Counter, currently exhibited at Hebrew Union College Museum, offers a visual and textual guide into these riches.

Harry McCormick’s Paintings: A Unique Jewish Genre

Written on July 02, 2013

Friday Night Candles
At the Chassidic Art Institute one artist, Harry McCormick, has rather amazingly fathomed the authentic heartbeat of the individual Jewish life.  This exhibition, running until July 25, shows a mere 16 paintings, but within the major works he is showing, six works reveal a deeply perceptive and sensitive chronicle of Yiddishkeit.

Fine Judaica Auction
June 20, 2013 Kestenbaum & Company

Written on June 15, 2013

German Silver & Enamel Kiddush Cup
Judaica Auctions and the exhibition that precede them at Kestenbaum & Company are always a cornucopia of aesthetic delights.  The sheer variety and overall quality of the ceremonial objects and works of art make the exhibition and catalogue a museum-like experience. The current exhibition from June 16 through June 19th (Sunday – Noon – 6pm; Monday – Wednesday – 10am – 6pm) is no exception.  

Steinhardt's Legacy

Written on April 25, 2013

Judges - Frankfort Mishneh Torah
Michael and Judy Steinhardt are putting up their magnificent Judaica collection for sale at Sotheby’s in New York on April 29th.    The results of 44 years of diverse collecting will be on view from Wednesday April 24 and simply must be seen by anyone interested in Jewish visual and material culture.  

It's a Thin Line
The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond

Written on January 10, 2013

Manhattan Three Times
What a wonderful exhibition Yeshiva University Museum has mounted with “It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond.”  Sensitively curated by Zachary Paul Levine under the watchful and expert halachic supervision of Rabbi Adam Mintz (see also his “The Brooklyn Eruv” in the Winter 2012 Hakirah Journal), the show traces the origins and development of the rabbinic construct known as the eruv based on the Oral Law.  

Gelernter’s Kings of Israel
Sh’ma/Listen: The Art of David Gelernter

Written on January 10, 2013

We must listen and really see the recent works of David Gelernter, artist, author and professor of computer science at Yale University.  His statements in the gallery video are riveting. And his images, especially the Kings of Israel series are revelatory.  It is in the dialectic between these two distinct approaches that we can understand his insight into the past and be guided into a present appreciation of Jewish Art. 

Sotheby’s Chanukah Auction: December 19, 2012

Written on December 03, 2012

Rabbi with Young Student by Kaufmann Courtesy Sotheby’s

Silence. There is an overwhelming silence that dominates the Isidor Kaufmann masterpiece, Rabbi with Young Student (catalogue #93) offered for sale at the Sotheby’s December 19th auction.  Kaufmann’s most engaging paintings for me are the deeply psychological portraits, usually of Hasidic men, young women and youths.

Crossing Borders
Masterpieces from the Bodleian Library

Written on October 27, 2012

Tripartate Mahzor Bodleian Library & Jewish Museum

In the eyes of the ram lies the artist’s commentary on the Rosh HaShanah piyyut; “The King Girded with Strength.” From the Tripartite Mahzor (German 14th century), this illumination simultaneously echoes the piyyut’s praise of God’s awesome power and expresses the terror of actually being a sacrifice to God.  The ram is but a reflection of Isaac. It is all in the eyes.

Bill Aron’s Time Machines
Forever Young, Forever Old: Panoramas of Israel

Written on September 06, 2012

Tallit Steps Revisited (19 ¾ x 13) digital print by Bill Aron Courtesy 92nd Street Y

Photographs seems like cruel little slices from the past, frozen images of what will never be again.  Since we assume that the photographic image is, by and large, a factual view of some reality, it is inherently believed and trusted.  But now be forewarned.  It ain’t necessarily so.  Bill Aron’s new images at the 92nd Street Y betray and beguile so as to force us to reassess the meaning of what we see.

Rylands Haggadah: Medieval Jewish Art in Context

Written on July 30, 2012

Plague of Locusts & Plague of Darkness (ca.1330) Tempera, gold, ink on parchment: Rylands Haggadah Courtesy The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester, England

The Rylands Haggadah, created in Catalonia Spain sometime around 1330, is a towering masterpiece of Jewish Art.  In addition to pages of piyutim surrounded by ornate decorative and figurative micrography, richly decorated Haggadah text and blessings, there is a 13 page miniature cycle depicting the Exodus story from Moses at the Burning Bush to the Crossing of the Red Sea.

Bartolo’s Sacred Narrative

Written on July 24, 2012

Adoration of the Magi (with predella) (c. 1375-1385) Tempera on panel by Bartolo di Fredi Courtesy Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali, Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena University of Virginia Art Museum and the Lindenau-Museum

The Museum of Biblical Art in New York has mounted a remarkable exhibition with Bartolo di Fredi’s 14th century masterpiece, “Adoration of the Magi.”  This small but powerful exhibition, but one of many in the 7 year history of MOBIA, is an exploration of exactly how a “painter of faith” narrates adoration.  MOBIA is the only scholarly museum celebrating art and the Bible in the United States and, while has major support from the American Bible Society, is fully independent of any denomination or religion.

Zaslavsky’s Jews

Written on December 31, 2011

770 Wedding, (40 x 30) oil on canvas by Venyamin Zaslavsky Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Jewish artists do the darndest things. The Chassidic Art Institute, expertly directed by Zev Markowitz, is currently showing Venyamin Zaslavsky, a Ukrainian Jewish artist who has devoted the last 20 years to depictions of pious Jewish life in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.