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Matthew Baigell & the Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards 2016

Our Advisory Board member Matthew Baigell’s Social Concern and Left Politics in Jewish American American Art, 1880-1940 (Syracuse University Press, 2015) was awarded Honorable Mention in the Association of Jewish Studies Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards for 2016 in the category for Jews and the Arts.

These awards recognize and promote outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: rigorous research, thsocial-concern-and-left-politics-in-jewish-american-arteoretical sophistication, innovative methodology, and excellent writing. The publication is available at S.U. Press

“Baigell, the premier scholar of Jewish American art, has written what promises to be the definitive study of its political and social concerns in the 1930s, tracing them back to the 1880s, and showing how they were informed by the artists’ religious heritage. Donald Kuspit, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History and Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

In his latest study of Jewish American art, Matthew Baigell addresses the work of socially conscious artists by exploring the complex interplay of “Jewish particularism and … universalist intentions” during the pivotal sixty-year period between 1880 and 1940. In a series of five closely related, chronologically arranged essays, the author explores the evolution of social and political imagery based on the premise “that social concern can be considered an aspect of the cultural and religious heritage of Jewish American artists who trace their roots to eastern Europe”. He focuses primarily but not exclusively on mass media ephemera, often in the form of cartoons that were published in Jewish magazines and newspapers. The immediacy and brevity of the messages, coupled with the impossibility of reconstructing their distribution and readership, are challenges faced by anyone who investigates the history of printed media; thus, Baigell’s ambitious efforts to rediscover and elucidate this sort of material are commendable. Read full review here.

Jewish Art Salon’s Advisor Ori Z. Soltes reviewed the book here.

Baigell’s The Implacable Urge to Defame: Cartoon Jews in the American Press, 1877-1935 (also Syracuse U. Press) will be published in the Spring of 2017.

More info here.

Matthew Baigell is professor emeritus in the Department of Art History at Rutgers University. He is the author of numerous books, including American Artists, Jewish Images, Jewish Art in America: An Introduction, and Social Concern and Left Politics in Jewish American Art, 1880–1940


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