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Frank Stella’s Had Gadya at the Heller Museum

One might not immediately associate Frank Stella (b. 1936), the American painter, sculptor, and printmaker noted for his work in the areas of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction, with a cumulative, lyrical poem that concludes the traditional Seder, or festive meal, on the Jewish holiday of Passover.  Had Gadya describes a chain of events evoking conflict culminating in divine intervention. Just as each of the ten verses of the song builds on the one before it, Stella’s 12 Had Gadya prints build on the original 1919 series of 11 illustrations of Had Gadya by Russian-Jewish avant-garde artist Eliezer (El) Lissitzky, which Stella encountered at the Tel Aviv Museum in 1981. Lissitzky’s works spurred Stella to develop his own language of narrative abstraction in sequential works, employing a complex combination of printmaking techniques – lithography, linoleum block, silkscreen, and rubber relief with collage elements and hand-coloring.  Expressing a universal, aspirational message of justice, Stella’s Had Gadya offers a vision of hope, where good prevails over evil, and beckons us to imagine a better future.

Thursday, September 7, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET

6:00 p.m. ET | Program
Collecting Stella’s Had Gadya – Elissa Oshinsky, lender to the exhibition
The Music of Had Gadya – Cantor Ella Gladstone Martin ’23, The Community Synagogue, Port Washington, Long Island; with Cantor Jill Abramson, Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music; Joyce Rosenzweig, Professor of Practice in Jewish Music and Performance, DFSSM; and DFSSM students Lauren Blasband-Roth ’25, Justin Callis ’24, Sierra Fox ’25, Emily Lezin ’27, Kevin McKenzie ’24, Beth Reinstein ’25



Tuesday, November 14, 2:00 p.m. ET
Discover how Frank Stella, the celebrated American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, has found inspiration in Jewish themes throughout his career, from his earliest minimalist paintings influenced by the Nazi propaganda newsreels of his childhood, his mixed-media “Polish Wooden Synagogue” works commemorating “the obliteration of a culture,” and his Had Gadya narrative abstractions expressing a universal, aspirational message of justice and hope. 
With Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, HUC-JIR/New York


Dr. Bernard Heller Museum

Location: One West Fourth Street, New York
Visit: Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Information/Tours: 212-824-2218 or
Explore: Access the Heller Museum’s free exhibition guide and curator’s audio tour on the Bloomberg Connects app This exhibition of Elissa Oshinsky’s collection of Frank Stella: Had Gadya is presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, with the generous support of Mildred Weissman,z”l, and George Weissman, z”l.

Image credit: Frank Stella, Had Gadya: Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, lithography, etching, screen printing, woodcut, and linocuts, ed. 47/60, 1984, Collection of Elissa Oshinsky.
© 2023 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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