Schachter’s Manifesto by Richard McBee

“Image, Action, and Idea in Contemporary Jewish Art” by Ben Schachter
The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania (2017).

Jewish Art Salon’s founding member Richard McBee’s excellent review of Jewish Art Salon’s advisor Ben Schachter’s new book was published in the Times of Israel Blog February 19th, 2018.


“Ben Schachter declared on February 8 at the Yeshiva University Museum a manifesto for a new critical language of Jewish visual culture: “By sharing a common TEXT, contemporary Jewish Art has become the most radical art being created today!” While that statement obviously needs a lot of unpacking, it nonetheless adds to a dramatic trend in serious thinking about Jewish visual culture as this century unfolds. Simply put, momentous changes are brewing.

Schachter’s new book, “Image, Action, and Idea in Contemporary Jewish Art”, discussed recently at YUM, proclaims that the analysis of Jewish Art needs to “move from image to action” as the model of critical discourse. He posits that formally Jewish artists were overly concerned with overcoming the strictures of the Second Commandment, inevitably basing their image making and critical appraisals on avoiding or negating forbidden idolatry imbedded in the graven image.

Schachter sees this approach as missing what is a far more dynamic and productive paradigm in Jewish law, the Fourth Commandment of Shabbos. Imbedded in this law is the concept of the 39 Forbidden Labors of Shabbos that Schachter sees as pointing the way to art-making based on process and action, conceptual art; an art based on Jewish texts and practice that reveal the essence of Judaism as a system of thought and belief founded upon action.”

Continue the article here.

Ben Schachter, Nine Nights of Chanukah


Schachter discussing his book at the YU Museum.