Imagining Jewish Art: Encounters with the Masters in Chagall, Guston, and Kitaj

Overview

Short-listed for the Art and Christian Enquiry/Mercers’ International Book Award 2009: ‘a book which makes an outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts’.

What does modern Jewish art look like? Where many scholars, critics, and curators have gone searching for the essence of Jewish art in Biblical illustrations and other traditional subjects, Rosen sets out to discover Jewishness in unlikely places. How, he asks, have modern Jewish ...

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Overview

Short-listed for the Art and Christian Enquiry/Mercers’ International Book Award 2009: ‘a book which makes an outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts’.

What does modern Jewish art look like? Where many scholars, critics, and curators have gone searching for the essence of Jewish art in Biblical illustrations and other traditional subjects, Rosen sets out to discover Jewishness in unlikely places. How, he asks, have modern Jewish painters explored their Jewish identity using an artistic past which is – by and large – non-Jewish?

In this new book we encounter some of the great works of Western art history through Jewish eyes. We see Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece re-imagined by Marc Chagall (1887-1985), traces of Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca in Philip Guston (1913-1980), and images by Diego Velazquez and Paul Cezanne studiously reworked by R.B. Kitaj (1932-2007). This highly comparative study draws on theological, philosophical and literary sources from Franz Rosenzweig to Franz Kafka and Philip Roth. Rosen deepens our understanding not only of Chagall, Guston, and Kitaj but also of how art might serve as a key resource for rethinking such fundamental Jewish concepts as family, tradition, and homeland.

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Editorial Reviews

Zeek at Jewcy - Ezra Glinter
Rosen’s effort to identify and elucidate the Jewish concerns of these three very different artists is penetrating and his analysis of the works in question is consistently insightful. Though the exact nature of Jewish art remains slippery, Rosen’s book is a worthy investigation of the ways in which the most evidently Jewish art can borrow from the least Jewish sources, and the ways in which less apparently Jewish art can have unexpected Jewish resonances.
The Jewish Telegraph
Bypassing past scholars, critics, and curators who have sought the quintessential nature of Jewish art... but failed to come up with the answer, Rosen is your man.
The American
For lovers of American art, Jewish art, history or theology, Dr Rosen has approached the subject comprehensively... Making an exceptional input to the exchange of ideas and channel of communication between religion and the fine arts, Dr Rosen processes how any type of Jewish art may serve deep-seated Jewish ideas of family, tradition, and homeland... Dr Rosen communicates his ideas succinctly, in an accessible manner.
Art & Christianity, 62, Summer 2010, 14 - Monica Bohm-Duchen
Unashamedly scholarly yet written in a style that is refreshingly accessible, achieving a rare and satisfying balance between detailed, even minute, analyses of specific works of art and a broader sense of purpose, underpinned by an intimate knowledge of a wide range of theological and philosophical texts.... Imagining Jewish Art concludes with an excellent and immensely thought-provoking chapter entitled ‘Brushes with the Past’, suggestive of enough new avenues of intellectual enquiry to fuel several more volumes. While other scholars (both Jewish and non-Jewish) may indeed take up some of these challenges, I have little doubt that we shall be hearing more of Aaron Rosen in the future.
Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 9.3, 2010, 437-39 - Janet Wolff
Towards the end of his book, Rosen explains that his intention has been to illustrate ‘something of the unique, productive tensions which can arise when the themes and symbols in works by non-Jewish artists are made to "speak Jewish"’ (106). In this he is entirely successful. The reader learns a good deal about the three artists, and can see in practice how a Jewish artist, interested in questions of Jewish history and identity, may engage the art-historical tradition in producing a new kind of visual imagery.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 29.4, Summer 2011, 177-79 - Samantha Baskind
A probing and accessible interdisciplinary contribution to the field of modern Jewish art.
Literature and Theology, 27.1 (March 2013), 116 - Alana M. Vincent
The book is at its strongest when it employs formal comparisons to demonstrate the close visual conversations with European ‘Masters’ of religious art (such as Grü̈newald, Uccello and della Francesca) that Chagall, Guston and Kitaj each engage in.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781906540548
  • Publisher: European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Series: Legenda Studies In Comparative Literature Series , #16
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

List of Illustrations xi

Introduction 1

1 Marc Chagall: Fostering a Family of Images 19

2 Philip Guston: Recasting the Past, or How to Make a Golem 49

3 R. B. Kitaj: The Diasporist Unpacks 77

Conclusion: Brushes with the Past 105

Appendices 111

I Musical Iconography in Marc Chagall and Matthias Grünewald 111

II R. B. Kitaj and the 'Western' Tradition 112

III Baseball and Jewish-American Identity 113

Bibliography 115

Index 123

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