Object of the Month - June - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Object of the Month - June

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June 2018

Gerald Wartofsky (b. 1935) Absalom Oil on canvas United States, 1993 B’nai B’rith Klutznick Collection of the Skirball Museum

Gerald Wartofsky (b. 1935) Absalom Oil on canvas United States, 1993 B’nai B’rith Klutznick Collection of the Skirball Museum

Gerald Wartofsky studied in Washington, DC and in New York, pursuing a method to assimilate the dualistic nature of classical and expressionistic approaches to his artmaking. He finds inspiration in literature, music and dance. His work is characterized by delicate intensities of color and dappled light, conveying a sense of scintillating movement. Absalom was the favored son of King David who rebelled against his father, seeking to overthrow him. In the end he was destroyed, against King David’s grieving orders. Absalom had always taken pride in his thick, rich hair, no doubt ruddy, like his father’s. But in fleeing from his father’s soldiers, he was caught by his hair in the branches of a tree. His horse, in panic, rode on, leaving him hanging. Trapped, he was killed by David’s men as they came upon him. In Wartofsky’s interpretation, Absalom is swathed in light and shadow, his hair sweeping upward, its’ strands wrapping themselves around branches. The figure is caught in that poignant moment when the horse has shot on and Absalom is left hanging, his fate determined. 

This work recently went on view in the lobby of Mayerson Hall, which houses the Skirball Museum.