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Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture

Ori_Soltes_CoverOri Z. Soltes’ new book was recently published and is available here on Amazon.

This magnum opus of 630 pages is currently available as a black & white edition. The two-volume full-color edition will be available in a few months.

Not only are many Jewish Art Salon artists represented in this book, it ends with our exhibition The Dura Europos Project, completed in 2011, which was shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art and the UJA-NY Gallery.

“The most informative and comprehensive book on Jewish art! Jam-packed with information and ideas, this is an absolute must-have for every bookshelf.”

—    YONA VERWER, artist and President, Jewish Art Salon

“Mr. Soltes has done a staggering job in charting the 3000-year trajectory of Jewish Art, a topic often misrepresented and misunderstood. But he actually has done much more than that. He has successfully articulated the historical, religious and cultural currents whereby a new Jewish Art has forthrightly emerged.”
—    JOEL SILVERSTEIN, artist, curator, art critic and theorist
“Magisterial, contentious and insightful, Soltes has produced a significant reexamination of 3000 years of Jewish Visual creativity. This intellectual journey traces the Jewish encounter with the sacred in art, pointedly focusing on the significance of contemporary Jewish Art.  A triumph for all Jewish culture!”
—    RICHARD McBEE, artist and critic

This unique volume addresses the idea of Jewish art and architecture by posing and responding to a series of questions. These begin with the unresolved conceptual definition of “Jewish” and the consequent complication attached to any noun—literature, art, music, dance, thought—to which that adjective is appended.

The questions continue with the complex matter of historical definition: Abraham was called a Hebrew; Moses and David were Israelites; Ezra was a Judaean. How are these terms related to and different from the terms “Jew” and “Jewish” and where, accordingly, must one place Israelite and Judaean art and architecture within the understanding of Jewish art and architecture? The narrative further asks: when one uses the phrase “Jewish art and architecture,” is the basis for employing that adjective the work of art or the identity of the artist? If the former, is the criterion subject, style, symbol, purpose? If the latter, is it the artist’s convictions that are being labeled “Jewish”—does he or she need to be consciously trying to make “Jewish” art? Is the artist-based definition affected by birth or conversion: does an artist who converts into or out of Judaism suddenly begin to make Jewish art or cease to make Jewish art?

Soltes is an Advisor to the Jewish Art Salon. He teaches in the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, and is the former Director and Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. He has curated over eighty exhibitions, and is the author of several hundred articles, essays and books, including Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian and Muslim Art Draws from the Same Source and The Ashen Rainbow, Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust.

Jewish Art Salon members whose work was published and reviewed in the book:

Helene Aylon, Siona Benjamin, Bruria Finkel, Tobi Kahn, Robert Kirschbaum, Richard McBee, Mark Podwal, Lia Lynn Rosen, Susan Schwalb, Archie Rand, Joel Silverstein, Yona Verwer, Joyce Ellen Weinstein, Ruth Weisberg.

Current Jewish Art Salon members who were mentioned in The Dura Europos Project foot note (in addition to the artists mentioned above):

Ellen Alt, Cheselyn Amato, Alan Falk, Sandra Indig, Rachel Kanter, Batya F. Kuncman, Stacy Leeman, Ellen Deitell Newman, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Ruth Schreiber, Brian Shapiro, Susan Shender, Adele Shtern, Miriam Stern, Elke Reva Sudin, David Wander.



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