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Rabbi van Voolen's (curator, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam; Jewish Identity in Contemporary Architecture) ambitious volume explores the role Jews have played in various media of the visual arts and traces Jewish history from the Spanish and Dutch golden ages to the Holocaust and beyond. It gives a whirlwind history of Judaism and Jewish history and culture in an introductory 25-page essay, then offers periodic examples of various forms of visual arts representing the Jewish cultural contribution to Western civilization. The format is historical and chronological, with generous illustrations from bibles, synagogues, paintings, sculptures, and architectural representations. Each chapter focuses on an important artist and a representative "Jewish" image produced by that artist. And while the roster of Jewish artists here is by no means comprehensive, it is impressive—both luminaries (e.g., Amedeo Modigliani) and more contemporary artists (e.g., Jacques Lipschitz) are included. There's also a short essay on composer and painter Arnold Schoenberg, as this volume attempts to see Jewish "art" in the broadest of aesthetic contexts. A very informative time line and a bibliography for further readings on each artist round out the book. A useful and informative addition to art library collections; recommended.
—Herbert E. Shapiro Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information