Matthew Baigell, Founding Member of the Jewish Art Salon, has been blogging for The Prosen People.
He is the author of the recently published book Social Concern and Left Politics in Jewish America Art, 1880-1940
“These are great times for those of us who support, encourage, and enjoy looking at art with Jewish themes. Perhaps never before are so many artists all over America finding inspiration in the basic texts of the religion—the Torah, the Talmud, kabbalah, and the daily and high holiday prayer books. The artists do not just illustrate these texts in traditional ways but challenge them, especially feminist artists opposed to male patriarchy, and find personal themes and subject matter that allow for personal flights of fancy.
Based on several factors including Israeli military victories in 1967 and 1973, the liberation movements of the 1960s (civil and gay rights, the women’s movement), and the spiritualism within the Jewish Renewal movement, Jewish artists began to explore openly and aggressively their religious and cultural heritage. The results have been astonishing. These artists, who have matured in an environment largely free from overt anti-Semitism, belong to the generations born in the 1930s and after, the first generations of artists to feel comfortable as Jews and as assimilated Americans.
No longer worrying about coming out of the closet, as it were, as Jewish artists, they have revolutionized Jewish American art. Their styles range from realistic to abstract. Some employ commix imagery. Many would like their art to contribute to a sense of “tikkun olam,” or repair of the world, not a bad idea wanting to contribute to world betterment in the market-driven art world.”
Continue article here.
With JAS artist members Siona Benjamin, David Wander, & Ruth Weisberg