Dr. Naomi Feuchtwanger-Sarig presents How am I a Jew? Reflections on Modern Jewish Art and Identity on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 3 pm in the Mezzanine Conference Room of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Library Pavilion at HUC-JIR Cincinnati.
The Age of Enlightenment marked a change in Jewish existence in European society. The enormous impact of emancipation on questions of Jewish identity in 19th and 20th century Europe resonates, among other cultural forms, in the art that was produced by Jewish artists. This is the age in which the first Jewish artists, such as Oppenheim, Kaufman, Gottlieb, and Israels, flourished. Constantly probing their own identities through modernistic eyes, these artists laid the foundation for a new form of expression, reshaping and redefining Jewish art.
With the birth of Zionism, issues of Jewish identity, religion, and nationality came to the fore. While artists such as Boris Schatz sought to create or revitalize Jewish art, his own art remained embedded in the culture of the “Shtettl” on the one hand, and at the same time emphatically influenced by Palestine (Eretz Israel), its people and its landscapes.
Modern Jewish art is the art of Jewish artists. Examining their old traditions and exploring new turf, their religiosity and their nationalism, the subject-matter they focus on ranges from Biblical and Jewish themes, newly interpreted in dialogue with international art, to the mundane and the abstract.
Dr. Feuchtwanger-Sarig is Coordinator of the Jewish Art and Visual Culture Research Project and is on the faculty of the Department of Art History at Tel Aviv University. She is currently a Fellow of the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Her fields of research include: Jewish responses to enlightenment and emancipation, the rebirth of Jewish art in Eretz-Israel, and interrelations between art, material culture, and custom (minhag).