The next commandment declares: “You shall not lead to yourself a sculptured image or any likeness of everything that is in the heavens above or even in the planet earth below” (Exodus 20:4). This single Biblical edict feeds the misconception that Jewish art made by Jewish artists is a relatively recent genre. Yet, unlike popular perception, jewish art date back to Biblical times, and Jewish artists have indeed depicted anthropomorphic images.
The sanction that might more aptly work as the slogan for a great deal of Jewish art perhaps needs to be, “Remember the stranger, for you personally were once strangers inside the land of Egypt.” Paired with the repeated biblical command to remember the stranger and the Israelites’ wandering- and also the insecurity that was included with that homelessness- stands the concept that God’s presence remains eternal and protective, ideas that infuse Jewish art.
The Biblical Bezalel-whose name literally means, “in the shadow or protection of God”-was the Jewish artisan appointed specifically by God to construct the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:2). In case one defines Jewish art because the works of Jewish artists, one of several earliest works of Jewish art lay in God’s command to Bezalel regarding the building of the Tabernacle.
The Bible details the gorgeous work of Jewish hands from the building of your First Temple in Jerusalem beneath the direction of King Solomon. It is identified as overlaid with gold and decorated with cherubim (I Kings 6). The
describes the advantage of the Herod’s Second Temple, declaring, “He having not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in the life” (Tractate Succot 51b).
Inspite of the destruction in the Second Temple in Jerusalem during 70 C.E. and the beginning of a 2,000-year Jewish exile, Jewish art flourished during the early post-exilic period, inside and outside the land of Israel, including the Dura Europos and Beit Alpha synagogues. The synagogue in Syria’s Dura Europos, a medieval city over the Euphrates, contains well-preserved frescoes in the third century that portray human figures in biblical scenes.
The sixth-century mosaic of Israel’s Beit Alpha synagogue depicts human figures in a scene through the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22), and also signs and symptoms of the Zodiac. Talmudic texts also acknowledge the existence and tolerance of graven images. Synagogues like those at Beit Alpha and Dura Europos demonstrate that images were not only tolerated but utilized by the Jewish communities.
Under Islamic rule, throughout the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance, much of evidence of Jewish art is restricted to the construction of synagogues along with the illustration of manuscripts. This is probably not as greatly influenced by the comprehension of the next commandment as by the reality in the Jewish community in those eras. Countries with strong Muslim influences, including Spain, featured far less physical representation of human forms in art than the Northern European communities, because Muslims shun such literal renderings of human forms.
Another factor that could have influenced the seemingly smaller scope of judaica art may lie within the nature of Jewish education. The Jewish communities were acquainted with Biblical stories that managed to get unnecessary to portray them in how that this Christian world was doing for that illiterate masses. Because the Encyclopedia Judaica states, “For the Jews, making use of their high level of literacy due to their almost universal system of education as well as their knowledge of the scripture story, this is superfluous.”
Works of Jewish art out of this period include illuminated manuscripts like the 15th century Kennicott Bible, with illustrations of King David, Jonah, and Balaam. Additionally, there are illuminated Bibles from Yemen through the same period, but they tend not to have the portrayal of human figures. The earlier 14th century Sarajevo Haggadah, also illuminated, was taken to Sarajevo from Spain once the Spanish expulsion and Inquisition.
that details the ornate appeal of the Tabernacle failed to inspire ornate synagogue architecture in this period. Even though some synagogues from the medieval, Middle Ages, and Renaissance contained stained glass, it had been unremarkable. Reasons for this may range from the political and economic weakness of Jewish communities bound to church controls as well as the Jewish communities’ own desires not to draw attention to themselves. More remarkable, however, were the Jewish ritual objects that originated with this time frame and then be created to this present day, all within the name of hiddur mitzvah-the idea of adorning a commandment as well as the objects accustomed to perform it with beauty. Examples include Torah crowns and finials,
In Western Europe, together with the coming from the Enlightenment, a larger acceptance of Jews on earth at large meant that Jewish artists could practice more freely. The late 19th and early 20th century led rise to familiar figures of not just the Jewish art world although the art world at large, including Camille Pissarro, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Marc Chagall.
Camille Pissarro was actually a principal impressionist painter who struggled financially to be true to the impressionist style. Modigliani, the Italian Jewish painter, settled in Paris along with a painting style that included elongated faces associated with African masks. His contemporary, Chaim Soutine, was created in Russia, but in addition painted in Paris and was friends with Modigliani, who painted his portrait in 1917.
But Marc Chagall, a lot more than these others, incorporated his Jewish upbringing and immigrant experience into his work. Many of Chagall’s most well known paintings are populated with figures of his childhood in Belorussia.
The settling and establishment of the state Israel within the twentieth century provided another dimension to Jewish art. Many young, often European, Jews got to the Land of Israel from the pre-state period as pioneers (halutzim), in addition to their link with the land accentuated their art. Artists like Reuben Rubin, who made aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 1912 and studied on the newly established (1906) Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem, painted in a way that showed adoration for the land, with romanticized visions of ancient and modern Israel. The work of Anna Ticho, who had studied in Vienna, portrays finely detailed pencil dexqpky04 charcoal renderings of the Judean hills, soft water colors of the plant life and animals around her, and exquisite portraits from the patients, Arab and Jew, who arrived at her husband’s ophthalmology clinic inside their home, where she often worked.
The current immigrant experience is reflected within the works of Mikhail Gorman whose native Russian can be used as text in his paintings, while Israeli-born artist
Agam has established recognizable three-dimensional pieces significant for both their spot in the bigger Op-Art movement, as well as their interesting use of
The ability or memory of the modern Jewish artist has included the shared reality of pogroms, wars, persecution, as well as a modern-day version of Biblical wanderings. Jewish artists’ work intertwined with all the reality of times, similar to Felix Nussbaum, the Polish painter who later moved to Berlin and ultimately died in Auschwitz together with his wife, also an artist. His work reflects wide-eyed fear, as in his 1943, “Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card.”
And thousands of years following the wanderings of your Jewish people in the desert, some critics understand Mark Rothko’s large canvases with blocks of color as a modern tabernacle. By doing this, Rothko, much like jewish paintings, was both creating a sanctuary serving as a location of worship in addition to a mobile place, reflecting the enduring reality of wandering inside the past of the Jewish people.