INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF THE ISRAELI ART
HOW TO DEFINE JEWISH ART?
WHO IS AND WHO IS NOT A JEWISH ARTIST?
In Europe and in the United States, many Jewish immigrant artists made their mark on the world of art. Chana Orloff, born in the Ukraine, immigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1905. In 1910, she traveled to Paris to further her studies and exhibit her art. By the 1920s, Orloff gained an international reputation for her portraiture work. Born in Lithuania, Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, arrived to Paris in 1909. He changed his name to Jacques Lipchitz. In 1913, he met Picasso and short after, he commenced to exhibit his Cubist sculptures. Influenced by metaphoric forms and mythological themes, Lipchitz began to distance himself from Cubism to adopt geo-organic style. Following the Nazis occupation of Paris, and around 1941, he left Paris to settle in New York. Another Jewish giant was Max Weber, who was born in Bialystok. Like his predecessors, he moved to New York when he was 10 year old. Other immigrant Jewish established and aspiring artists joined the Educational Alliance School located in New Yorks Lower East Side. The school was already known for its outstanding German Jewish art teachers and instructors. During the Depressions years, an avalanche of Jewish artists in New York contributed to a multidimensional artistic movement in the United States. The multiple and varied ethnic backgrounds of the immigrant Jewish artists and intellectuals added an ultra-dimension to American modern art. Such Jewish pioneers were William Gropper, Raphael Sover and Ben Shahn who painted the Roosevelt Mural.
REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST AND VICTIMS
Since the end of the second world war, many Jewish artists devoted their lives to find pragmatic ways and means to keep alive the memory of the Holocausts victims. A vast literature and an abundance of artwork by eminent Jewish thinkers, authors, writers and painters depicted and chronicled the bloody and barbarian mass murders and killing of Jews on the hands of the Nazis. The Little Angels written by Moshe Gershuni served as a remembrance tool. Mordecai Ardons Missa Dura witnessed the sufferings of the victims, the catastrophic events, the destruction of Jewish properties and assets, the slaughters of innocent Jews and the Kristallnacht. The Holocaust of George Segal became a national memorial and a universal bleeding symbol of human suffering, injustice, barbarism and atrocities. Segal used living beings to be directly casted in plaster and sculpted human images and forms of the corpses of the victims via photographs taken from real life, from concentration camps and cells of torture shortly after the Allied liberated the Nazis concentration camps in Europe. One of the most pulverizing and frightening features was the lone figure standing by a barbed wire fence, inspired and accurately based on Margaret Bourke-Whites original photograph.
JEWISH LIFE AND JEWISH ART IN THE POST WORLD WAR II: ISRAELI ART AS A DISTINCT ENTITY AND A WORLD-CLASS ART
Jewish art, culture, literary expression and Jewish urban life richly metamorphosed, developed and adopted many changes and variants in the post second world war era. Jews began collectively and individually, autonomously and fervently reach out to worlds Jewish communities, to explore new aesthetic definitions, innovative art techniques and approaches, to define and examine old and new political ideologies and dogma about their existence, human rights, the role and importance of Judaic art in their lives, families, milieus, societies and newly born country. An abundance of magnificent and varied Jewish art styles, genres and schools saw the light and began to fertilize and enrich the landscape of world art. The once upon a time a primitive Hebraic-Jewish art of Eastern Europe evolved into a world-class art. Jewish artists began to gain world recognition and an international fame. And while adding an ultra-dimension to universal art, Israeli artists who redefined JEWISH ENTITY IN ART preserved the cache and essence of an ethnic Judaic art. Anna Tichos sceneries and landscape of Jerusalem, Itzhak Danzigers The Lord Is My Shepherd, a most inspiring abstract-intellectual vision of Negev sheep, the First Seder in Jerusalem by Reuven Rubin, Prometheus by Menashe Kadishman, Shimshon by Gabi Klasner, Pardes by Samuel Bak, My Old Home by Evgeny Abesgauz, the kinetic expression and stunning optic art of Yaacov Agam, the masterpieces of Leonard Baskin, Ben Shahn, Larry River and the incomparable Adolph Gotlieb, the Windows Series of Chagall, the unforgettable painting Street in Weissewald by Irving Petlin, the Shrine Series by Tobi Kahn, The Jewish School of R. B. Kitaj and the Matzo Box Series of Adam Rolston ascertain the superior art quality and genius of the Jewish and Israeli artists.
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