Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Throwing Muses

Potter Jonathan Adler gets inspired by the Modernist temples that others find embarrassing.

Print Email

“Many people see Reform synagogues as hideous—they’ve become a reviled form of architecture,” says Manhattan ceramicist Jonathan Adler. “I see them as the apotheosis of organic Modernist design.” His parents belonged to a Conservative congregation, but he found his muse in the spare, undulating forms of the postwar Modernist temple where his grandparents worshiped and others like it. His recent line of Reform Temple Vases makes explicit his sources of inspiration.

Adler, who started throwing pots as an adolescent, prefers not to think of himself as an artist—”Artists tend to be very serious and self-important about what they do and that’s never been my approach,” he says—but at 38, he is enjoying his first museum exhibition, at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art through early April. Curator Matthew Singer, a longtime Adler fan, pairs photographs of synagogues—a Louise Nevelson bimah in Great Neck, a Miami sanctuary stocked with Paul Evans furniture—with the pottery, showing how Adler’s playful, “groovy” designs reiterate and refine the aesthetic vocabulary of the suburban buildings of the Sixties. These places of worship, characterized by simple geometric shapes and drab hues with the occasional splash of vivid color, are often sources of embarrassment for the communities—but not for Adler. “Think of amazing Renaissance churches,” he says. “Places of worship have always been over-the-top.”

Print Email

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Throwing Muses

Potter Jonathan Adler gets inspired by the Modernist temples that others find embarrassing.

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.