Jewish Art in America: An Introduction / Edition 1

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Is there a Jewish art? Is there a single "Jewish experience"? Matthew Baigell, the acknowledged American expert on Jewish art, offers the first book ever on the history of Jewish American art from the early settlements to the present. Jewish Art in America explores how the artists' Jewish heritage plays a part in their response to major events in history such as the Great Migration, the Great Depression, the Holocaust, the founding of the State of Israel, and the dispersal of Jewish artists around the country. It is a fascinating story of the Jewish experience in American art as seen through the works of eighty artists, including major figures as well as artists whose works have not achieved main-stream prominence. Chapters are arranged chronologically, with subjects such as feminism, spiritualism, and responses to the Holocaust having chapters of their own. Intended for art historians, curators, and students of American art and Jewish culture, Jewish Art in America is a landmark book in both American art and Jewish studies that covers complex territory comprehensively, with unparalleled incisiveness, thoughtfulness, and readability. It includes examples of works from the artists discussed.

About the Author:
Matthew Baigell is professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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Editorial Reviews

The book's...merit lies in its useful documentation of the work of artists, some of them like Max Weber or Ben Shahn, reasonably well known, but in many instances much less familiar and perhaps worthy of greater attention that they have received.
— W. Cahn, emeritus, Yale University
Religion and The Arts
The editors hope that 'by historicizing the Jewish art question, the essays in this volume pose the question in different ways and, above all, keep it alive and unpredictable as a question that can shed light on the relationship between Jews, the arts, and modernity' (18)…. What is impressive about The Art of Being Jewish, and marks it as the most significant edited volume in the field since Catherine Soussloff's Jewish Identity in Modern Art History, published a decade ago, is the overall rigorousness and variety of its contributions…. Once thought to be a liability, it is precisely the imprecision of the term 'Jewish art,' its fecund ambiguity, which makes it most worth holding on to.
Samantha Baskind
A pioneer in the field of Jewish American art, Baigell has fittingly written the first full-length introduction on the subject. A welcome and much-needed contribution.
Seth Wolitz
What Matthew Baigell is proposing is something quite unique and certainly cutting edge: the presentation that there is a Jewish art in America which is distinct to its practitioners and which does not necessarily conform to European conceptions of Jews and Jewish art and which at the same time in America is both part of the mainstream and a unique stream unto itself. Very fresh and in some ways radical.
CHOICE - W. Cahn
The book's...merit lies in its useful documentation of the work of artists, some of them like Max Weber or Ben Shahn, reasonably well known, but in many instances much less familiar and perhaps worthy of greater attention that they have received.
November 2008 American Jewish History
[Baigell] provides an excellent background for understanding the various contexts in which American Jews, including artists, have operated....[a] worthy addition to one's library.
Daniel Morris
Given his unmatched expertise in Jewish American art, and his experience as an author of general narrative history in the field of American art, I could think of no one more suited to the task of putting together the a textbook on Jewish American Art history than Matthew Baigell.
Jewish Book World
In this first book-length study of Jewish art in America, Matthew Baigell explores works from the early settlers of America to the present. Baigell concentrates on Jewish subject matter employed by artists as they illustrated aspects of their religious and ethnic heritage and as they responded to major events over the decades, including the Great Migration, Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel, as well as the dispersal of Jewish artists around the country and the rise of feminism and spiritualism in the late-20th century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742546417
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.93 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Baigell is professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers University.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Introduction     xiii
Until 1920, Preliminaries and Beginnings     1
The 1920s, Settling In     27
The 1930s, Social Issues     43
The 1940s, the Holocaust Years and After     71
The 1950s and After, the Older Generation     105
The 1950s and After, the Younger Generation     129
The 1970s and After, Representative Figures     147
The 1970s and After, Later Holocaust Responses     169
The 1970s and After, Spiritualism     189
The 1970s and After, Feminism     213
Conclusion     227
Works Cited     233
Index     237
About the Author     253
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