Opening reception: October 15, 5:30-7:30 pm
Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director, National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene
and members of the cast of "Gimpl Tam" will perform from the score
Maurice Sendak, Larry Rivers
"Zlateh the Goat" "The Magician of Lublin"
Singer's stories include people pushed by circumstances to the edge of reason. Surviving by their wits, they turn to prostitution, usury, robbery, gluttony, not missing a single deadly sin. Ira Moskowitz and Raphael Soyer, both friends of the writer, captured the bawdy, licentious, raucous and supernatural aspects of personalities ravaged by harsh conditions and their own consciences. These people are ever fighting with their moral rectitude and piety while giving way to the enjoyment of 'sinful' behavior. Moskowitz illustrated several books as well as portfolios inspired by individual personalities. His rabbinic series is one of ecstatic devotion and stands in stunning contrast to the licentious drawings. Soyer, who illustrated four seminal works, ranges from poignant contemporary New York street scenes to the provocative imagined world of visual storytelling.
Larry Rivers produced three illustrations for an edition of The Magician of Lublin, capturing the gravity of spiritual transformation inherent in the story. Reaching deeply into his own Jewish heritage, Rivers visually translated the dynamic tensions of the novel. Maurice Sendak illustrated two Singer works. In Zlateh the Goat, a collection of children's stories that take place in a fantasy of the rural Polish landscape, there is a whimsical reality to these illustrations enabling readers to embed themselves in Singer's world. Sendak's unfamiliar illustration for The Saturday Evening Post in 1968 reveals his now signature manic style, dense with familiar but obsessed characters.
Irene Lieblich, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, shared a mutually life enhancing friendship with Singer. Her memories of village life captured with joyous naivete the evocative landscape that was faithful to his own recollections of the shtetl. Singer wrote that "Her works are rooted in Jewish folklore and faithful to Jewish life and spirit."
Eric Carle brings a joyful collage of color and vitality to Why Noah Chose the Dove, embracing the universality and audacity of the biblical story. William Pene Du Bois, with delicacy, grace, and imaginative humor enhances Singer's fantasy tale, The Topsy-Turvy Emperor of China. Leonard Everrett Fisher, whose monumentally powerful 'scratchboard drawings' extract the iconic, biblical elements of Sodom and Gemorrah in The Wicked City. Yuri Shulevitz captures 16th-century aesthetic sensibilities in his sculptural depiction of The Golem. Precise and haunting, Shulevitz's drawings intensify the haunting tale.
Antonio Frasconi uses an Italianate sensibility to explore the time, setting, and strength of Elijah the Slave, and, faithful to his signature woodcut technique, a Polish aspect to Yentel the Yeshiva Boy. The brooding, translucent quality of Nonny Hogrogian's work reveals the inner turmoil of the characters, while the pure joy and silliness inherent in all of Margot Zemach's illustrations captures the Yiddish wit of Singer's stories.
The use of emotive photographs by Roman Vishniac jolts the viewer back to the stark reality at the source of Singer's tales. In these introspective faces lie the tragedy, hopes, potential, and resilience of a lost era of adolescent dreams, imagined worlds, loss of innocence, and an ever reflective memory. Singer remarked that he wrote for young people because "they still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, and other such obsolete stuff."
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.
Museum Hours: Mondays - Thursdays, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Admission: Free. Photo ID required.
Tours/Information: Katie Moscowitz, 212-824-2293: email@example.com;