Bezalel’s Progeny

50 Jewish Artist You Should Know presents the lives and work of the most important Jewish painters, sculptors, and visual artists of the past two hundred years, as selected by the author Edward van Voolen,

family resting with packed suitcases

Maurycy Minkowski, After the Pogrom, 1910 © Prestel Verlag

curator at the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, as well as rabbi and teacher at the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, Potsdam. The book is a joy to read. The concise introduction sketches the history of Jewish art of the past three thousand years, describing major events and personalities – Bezalel, the first biblical artist, and his successors –, but avoiding the pitfall of seeking too much common ground among the artists based solely on their Jewish family backgrounds.

The artists are listed by order of birth, starting in 1800 with Moritz Daniel Oppenheim and ending with Sigalit Landau, born in 1969. Each entry singles out select works of art – explicitly Jewish artworks, such as a synagogue designed by Sol Lewitt, but also allusive

painting of a man wearing a suit

Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Leopold Zborowski, 1916 © Prestel Verlag

works, such as Lee Krasner’s painted depictions of symbols reminiscent of ancient hieroglyphs. The many references to further artists, newcomer Yael Bartana or memorial designer Peter Eisenmann for instance, suggest that van Voolen would have been happy to double the number of entries prescribed by the Prestel publishing house series.

The author will present 50 Jewish Artist You Should Know at the Jüdische Volkshochschule on Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 7 pm.

(Edward van Voolen, 50 Jewish Artists You Should Know, Munich: Prestel 2011.)

Naomi Lubrich, Media

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