The Art of Arthur Szyk

On View

February 1-April 28, 2006


Wednesday, March 22, 2006 – 5:00 PM


Wednesday, March 22, 2006 – 6:00 PM with Irvin Ungar, Szyk Society Curator

Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum focuses on three overriding themes of Szyk’s life: World War II, America, and the Jewish Response. The exhibition explores Szyk’s artistic vision of a world of beauty and horror, of hope and despair, of freedom and terror – a world not very different from our own.

Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was a prolific master illuminator in the tradition of the 16th century miniaturist painters. A Polish Jew who escaped Europe in the wake of the Holocaust, he emigrated to the U.S. in December 1940. He was influenced by certain ideologies and motifs that derived from Polish literature, folklore and nationalism. His work galvanized the public to the horrors of injustice and oppression. This traveling exhibition explores the powerful issues and events of the era.

Thirty-two photo-murals make up this exhibit and introduce viewers to the life and art of Arthur Szyk, within the context of the cultural and political movements of the first half of the 20th century. Szyk often utilized often-obscure art forms, such as medieval text illumination, to articulate contemporary issues. Sometimes he combined what many would consider irreconcilable art forms such as the delicate traditions of sixteenth-century miniature painting and the overt bluntness of modern political caricature. The works presented in this exhibition further demonstrate how and why Szyk’s mission and message relate not only to the challenges of the past but also to the complexities of the present. Justice Illuminated is meant to be a catalyst to enable the viewer to think, to reflect, and to respond passionately to the world-in which we dwell today.

The exhibition is accompanied by a study-guide, sponsored by the Arthur Szyk Society, and displayed in way to provide both useful information and to stimulate questions and discussions amongst visitors and those studying art, art history, philosophy (aesthetics), American history, modern European history, World War II studies, holocaust studies, Slavic studies, Jewish studies, ethnic studies, and political science.

The Arthur Szyk Society, an not-for-profit organization founded in 1991, presents the artist’s prolific body of works to broad and diverse audiences in the United States, thus preserving Szyk’s legacy as an important artist and champion of both democratic and Jewish values. With active participation (as consultants and curators) in exhibitions at nationally recognized institutions such as the Library of Congress (1999-2000), the University of Scranton (2000), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2002), and UC Berkeley (2002), The Arthur Szyk Society is uniquely qualified to bring its traveling exhibition program and its companion educational materials to universities and colleges nationwide. The exhibition may be viewed in its entirety on The Arthur Szyk Society web page:


Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan

RSVP or (212) 824-2205 by March 16, 2006

Museum Hours

Mondays-Thursdays, 9 AM-5 PM; Fridays, 9 AM-3 PM;
Selected Sundays, 10 AM-2 PM, Feb. 12, 26; March 12, 26; April 9, 23


Rachel Litcofsky, for information, or (212) 824-2205;


Free, Photo ID Required