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Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
he treasures of Jewish material
culture have been a core compo-
nent in the scientific study of Judaism
at HUC-JIR since its inception
in 1875. The integration of art
throughout the College- Institute’s
classrooms and museums is a visual
extension of HUC-JIR’s spiritual,
cultural, and educational mission
and offers amplification to the
study of text and the interpreta-
tion of tradition and thought.
The creativity of artists explor-
ing Jewish identity, faith,
history, and experience con-
tinues to be a vital part of the learning
environment today, thanks to the generosity of
Sigmund R. Balka, a distinguished attorney and civic
activist, who has gifted the College-Institute with
his encyclopedic collection of major European and
American Jewish artists and Jewish themes in art
during the 19th and 20th centuries.
We are enormously grateful to Sigmund Balka for
entrusting his art collection to our institution,” says
Rabbi David Ellenson. “By donating his art to the
College-Institute’s Museum in New York, Sigmund
Balka has demonstrated the meaningful role that the
private collector can have on the development of a
university art museum as an essential educational
resource for faculty, students, and the larger public.”
Laura Kruger, Curator of the HUC-JIR Museum,
adds, “The Sigmund R. Balka Collection offers
insight into the creativity of Jewish artists as they
have encountered the challenges of modernity.
Images of traditional study and worship, the Jewish
home and neighborhood, and reflections of religious
faith mingle with depictions of assimilation and
acculturation, the struggle for human rights and
social justice, and the tragedy of those who perished
in the Holocaust. The full trajectory of Jewish fate
and survival are captured among the Balka
Collection’s paintings, drawings, prints, photographs,
and Judaica.”
Assembled over a period of five decades, the Balka
Collection provides a panoramic impression of
Jewish life and Jewish cultural production during a
golden era of creativity. Over 200 works present the
creativity of Jewish artists including Marc Chagall,
Issachar Ryback, Josef Israëls, Abel Pann, Jacques
Lipchitz, Ossip Zadkine, Herman Struck, Lesser Ury,
Jules Pascin, Leon Golub, Chaim Gross, William
Gropper, Joseph Hirsch, Jack
Levine, Saul Raskin, Louis
Lozowick, Raphael and Moses
Soyer, Ben Shahn, William
Sharp, Jakob Steinhardt, 5 Saul
Steinberg, Will Barnet, Isabel
Bishop, Larry Rivers, Joyce
Kozloff, and Max Ferguson,
among many others, as well as
works by Rembrandt, Max
Beckmann, Lyonel Feininger,
and Robert Motherwell.
The impulse to acquire and live
with art, and then to ultimately
share it with teaching institu-
tions, has animated Balka’s life.
Sigmund R. Balka
Installation of “The Eye of
the Collector: The Sigmund
R. Balka Collection” on
exhibition at the HUC-JIR
Museum in New York.
Art Enriches Learning