An art historian tackles the thorny matter of Jews and figurative painting
“Thou shalt not make graven images.” Thus reads the second commandment, which has been widely interpreted by Jews to mean that they are forbidden from depicting the human body. Yet, according to art historian Eliane Strosberg, during the 20th century Jewish artists in Europe and the United States defied that prohibition and almost exclusively painted and sculpted likenesses of themselves and of people they knew. They did so even while non-Jewish peers were jumping into Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, and other avant-garde genres. In a new book, The Human Figure and Jewish Culture, Strosberg explores the reasons why these Jewish artists set themselves apart.
The author was a fan of essayist Seymour Krim’s lively prose, but it wasn’t until a joint visit to a Taos commune that he saw the man himself come fully alive
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