Articles in Category: Museums / Auction Houses

Museums / Auction Houses

Ludwig Blum’s Israel

Written on December 18, 2011

Kibbutz Degania (1934) oil on canvas by Ludwig Blum Courtesy Museum of Biblical Art

Ludwig Blum (1891 – 1974) was a deeply complex artist who walked the fine line between pure aesthetics and a radical artistic view of the Zionist enterprise. He clearly loved to paint, make beautiful images and provide aesthetic pleasure.  As a committed Zionist and part of the Third Aliyah, he celebrated his newfound homeland with a visual passion exploring all of Palestine’s unique riches.

Leonard Everett Fisher’s Challenge

Written on October 22, 2011

Job (detail) (1964), gelatin tempera on board by Leonard Everett Fisher Courtesy John Tucker Collection

Just look at the expression on Jonah’s face.  It combines not only fear but also incomprehension at his terrible punishment of floating in the belly of the great fish. So too Noah peering out of the ark, perched on the edge of understanding that there might be a future for mankind.  Both works point to the genius of Leonard Everett Fisher as an artist and interpreter of biblical narrative.

Artists 4 Israel
Response Art Series

Written on August 17, 2011

Sacrificed, detail; painting by Eden Morris Courtesy: Terror: Artists Respond

There is a short list of things that really matter: family, friends, country and faith top most.  For many Jews, our people and Israel occupy an almost sacred place in the order of commitment and passion.  Therefore when either the Jewish people or the legitimacy of the State of Israel are attacked and slandered, we react passionately.  In a visceral way these things are crucial to the very core of our identity. How do contemporary Jewish artists respond?

The Art of Matrimony

Written on April 09, 2011

Ketubbah; Herat, Afghanistan, 1867; ink and watercolor on paper Courtesy The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Ketubot are the magical crystal ball into the life, concerns and joys of the Jewish community.  Perhaps no other Jewish artifact is so openly expressive of the dreams, desires and fears of the everyday world of Jewish life throughout the ages.  To illuminate this fact Sharon Liberman Mintz has expertly curated The Art of Matrimony: 32 Marriage Contracts from the Jewish Theological Seminary currently shown at the Jewish Museum. 

Last Folio
A Photographic Journey with Yuri Dojc

Written on April 03, 2011

Tefillin Bardejov, 2008, photograph by Yuri Dojc Courtesy the artist

Can the Holocaust be memorialized by an aesthetically beautiful object?   Doesn’t the obscenity of the crime create a fundamental contradiction?  The question still stands 66 years later, even as art is still being made about the Holocaust. Jewish creativity seeks to smother hate. But the questions persist: can a memorial ignite hope instead of despair?

Three Faiths at the Public Library

Written on December 06, 2010

Ketubah (detail) Akeidah – watercolor on paper (1782) NYPL Collection – Dorot Jewish Division

People believe different things and when they group together as religions, they pretty much agree that most of what the other groups believes is wrong.  But one thing that unites the big three monotheistic faiths, aside from the ostensible shared belief in one God, is a strong visual tradition found in manuscripts, documents and books.

A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles

Written on October 10, 2010

She is a Tree of Life (2000) by Temma Gentles and Dorothy Ross Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum

Textiles as a Jewish art medium have a long and distinguished history, frequently the sole surviving artifact testifying to a community’s existence and history.  Elaborate paroches from 17th century Italy still proclaim a rich and artistic love of the Torah ark so prized by Italian Jewish communities that are now but distant memories.

Shifting the Gaze
Painting and Feminism

Written on October 04, 2010

Judy Chicago, Sky Flesh, 1971, sprayed acrylic lacquer on acrylic.  Collection of Elizabeth A. Sackler, New York.  © 2010 Judy Chicago / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

But of course numbers don't tell the whole story of "painting and feminism," to cite the second half of the show's full title, Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism. Just because a woman is showing her work doesn't mean her work is expressing a feminist agenda or perspective.

Iconic Images from Israel
Rina Castelnuovo: Photographs

Written on May 01, 2010

Beersheba, Israel, 2009; color photograph by Rina Castelnuovo Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery

Iconic images are rare, especially in the mundane world of photojournalism.  But when they happen their intense simplicity compresses a host of ideas and emotions in a single picture, making complexity seem transparent. Israeli photojournalist Rina Castelnuovo excels at this skill.  Her first solo exhibition currently at the Andrea Meislin Gallery is a breathtaking tour-de-force of photographic insight focusing on the complex reality of Israeli life.

Modern Art / Sacred Space

Written on April 17, 2010

Beth Alpha (550CE) Mosaic Floor

From the earliest synagogues preserved to the present, Jews have struggled with the role of art in their sacred spaces.  Decorative or contemplative, subservient to architecture or an independent aesthetic experience?  The Dura Europos murals (235 CE) and many early mosaic floors from 250 CE to 500 CE point to a dominant role of artwork brimming with biblical narratives and Jewish symbols.

The Braginsky Collection

Written on February 14, 2010

Akeida, Harrison Miscellany, 1720, Corfu, Greece Courtesy The Braginsky Collection

Five hundred years of Jewish manuscript and printed book illumination are presented in “Highlights from the Braginsky Collection” scheduled to open at Yeshiva University Museum on March 17, 2010.

The Prayer of the Orchard Street Shul

Written on December 19, 2009

Tekiah (2009) oil on canvas (64 x 38) by Alan Falk Courtesy Cultural Heritage Artists Project, New Haven

In America it happens all the time.  Immigrant Jews arrive, build a community, more Jews come, and then prosper and move on to a better neighborhood and finally the suburbs. In the old neighborhood non-Jewish immigrants take their places and suddenly the once thriving shuls are empty.

Singer’s Artists

Written on November 21, 2009

Dance with Kerchief from Satan in Goray by Ira Moskowitz Courtesy Diana Gordon Collection

The illustrator stands in an oft-denigrated position, scorned by modernists and traditional purists alike.  For both schools of thought the sublime of art cannot be rendered literal.  On the other hand, illustrators are curiously accepted if not celebrated by those in a postmodern disposition.

Reinventing Ritual at The Jewish Museum

Written on September 23, 2009

Fringed Garment (2005), cotton: stitched and appliquéd by Rachel Kanter Courtesy The Jewish Museum

Why would one want to reinvent a Jewish ritual when it had been working perfectly well for hundreds if not thousands of years?  Ah ha, perhaps all is not as well as traditionalists would like to think.  There is the disquieting phenomenon that perhaps the majority of the Jewish people have little or no engagement with Jewish practice.

Derfner Judaica Museum and The Art Collection

Written on August 26, 2009

Matzah Bag, embroidery by Ita Aber and Tsirl Waletsky Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum

The inaugural exhibition, Tradition and Remembrance: Treasures of the Derfner Judaica Museum, at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale is a stunning presentation of close to 250 objects that sweeps through Jewish art history from the eighteenth century to contemporary times.