Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert, Standing lamp
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe
With a swift flick of a switch, the room is illuminated. This mundane, daily act echoes the rather more dramatic moment when light was created in the universe. The Hebrew Bible describes the creation of light in its opening chapter: "And G-d said, ’Let there be light’ and there was light." A distinction was made between darkness and light and the first day came into existence.
This Hebrew text is pierced into the brass lamp shade of a floor lamp designed by Ludwig Wolpert (1900–1981). Its elegant, sleek design reflects the aesthetic principles of the Bauhaus School which influenced Wolpert during his early career in Germany. Wolpert, who is regarded as one of the great 20th century Judaica makers, incorporated modern design principles into Jewish ceremonial art, often making radical breaks from traditional forms. Wolpert’s use of ornamentation is generally restrained, yet he frequently integrates pertinent Hebrew texts as dominant design elements into his elegant forms. In this lamp, the inclusion of a biblical text in a functional object is witty and yet raises an awareness of the sacred in daily life.
Wolpert fled to Israel in 1933 and later emigrated to New York where he committed himself to the design and production of Jewish ceremonial objects. A modest man, he taught his craft to other silversmiths and quietly influenced an entire generation of Judaica artists.
Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert
New York, USA, ca. 1970
Brass, pierced; fibreglass
181,5 x 57,5 cm