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3-Part On-Line Master Class with Samuel Gruber: Jewish Sculptors & Sculpture
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
One event on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 at 12:30 pm
One event on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 12:30 pm
In this series of three lectures art historian Dr. Samuel Gruber explores the uneasy relationship between Jews, Judaism, and the art of sculpture. Mostly, he will introduce a wide variety of sculpted ritual metalwork from the 16th through the 21st centuries, and an even larger selection of representational and abstract sculpture made by dozens of Jewish artists from the late 19th century until today. Dr. Gruber will introduce us to works by little known but influential and inspired Jewish artists and to some of the major names in 20th century art (who just happen to be Jewish).
Tuesday August 16, 2022
Hiddur Mitzvah: Sculpture of Jewish Ritual and Jewish Values
A strict and traditional interpretation of the Second Commandment would seem to indicate that Jews would avoid most forms of sculpture or at least representational sculpture altogether, yet we have biblical descriptions of the cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, and bronze bulls supporting a giant basin in front of Solomon’s temple. Knowledge of these ancient examples provided Jews with ritual loopholes that allowed some forms of sculpture at different times and different places. By the 16th century we find small representational figures of animals and humans decorating ritual objects that adorn the Torah scrolls themselves, and slowly Jews seemed to accustom themselves to other types of figurative decoration, and even three-dimensional art. By the end of the 19th century a new generation Zionist sculptors adopt figurative sculpture for ideological – not religious – purpose.
Tuesday August 23, 2022
Jewish Humanism or Jews Discover the Human Form
In the late 19th-century, a small number of Jewish artists began to study sculpture at academies of art. Mark Antokolsky (1840-1902) in Russia and Boris Schatz (1867-1932) in Bulgaria became leading figurative sculptures in their countries. In the United States Jewish sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917) created public monuments, portrait busts, and allegorical statues in the then prevalent academic style. These sculptors and others made art similar to that of their Christian contemporaries, but they also went out of their way to include some Jewish religious or cultural themes. Jesus was made to look Jewish, and many sculptors chose characters from the Hebrew Bible as the subjects for their heroic statuary. This was about asserting Jewish identity and for some was part of an overtly Zionist artistic agenda. During the interwar period, a much larger generation of Jewish sculptors arose, working in Paris and New York. Coming late to the party, they embraced the human figure as the core expressive element of their work.
Tuesday August 30, 2022
Filling the Void: Sculpture by and for Jews After the Holocaust
The Jewish love affair with sculpture continued After World War Two, and many sculptors continued to celebrate the human form though often manipulating the subject for expressive – and often commemorative purpose. Perhaps more common was the adoption of abstraction by many Jewish artists. On the one hand, this was in keeping with older Jewish tradition, but it was also a response to the inhumanity of the Shoah. Working in metal, artists like Richard Serra and Beverly Pepper emphasize the materiality of the bronze or steel over symbolic or narrative meaning. Others used sculpture architecturally to decorate architecture, especially synagogues. In the late 20th century, many Jewish artists were also in the forefront of installation art which combined sculpture and other media with live performance. Alongside these developments was the creation of an entirely new genre of Jewish sculpture, the Holocaust memorial. Already in the 1940s artists were seeking a new sculptural language to express – or at least remind the world – of the horrors, suffering and insurmountable loss of the Shoah. Sculptors as varied as George Segal, Sol LeWiit, Joel Shapiro, Louise Nevelson, Elbert Weinberg, Luise Kaish, Richard Serra, and many others have all created Holocaust memorial sculptural art. The verdict is still out how well they succeeded.
SAMUEL D. GRUBER, Ph.D, accomplished researcher, author, curator and consultant, is the founder and managing director of Gruber Heritage Global (GHG) – a cultural resources consulting firm. For more than twenty years he has been a leader in the documentation, protection, preservation and presentation of Jewish cultural heritage sites around the world. He was written two books about synagogue architecture; American Synagogues: A Century of Architecture and Jewish Community (2003) and Synagogues (1999), and has contributed numerous chapters, articles and conference papers to other publications. Since 2008 he has written a popular blog “Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments.” Dr. Gruber has a B.A, in Medieval Studies from Princeton University, and M.A, M.Phil. and Ph.D. Degrees from Columbia University in Art History and Archeology; with a specialization in the history of architecture. He is a Rome Prize winner and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome and has received numerous research grants and has participated in many grant-funded team projects. Dr. Gruber has taught in the Jewish Studies Program at Syracuse University since 1994 and has given courses at Binghamton, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell and Temple Universities and LeMoyne College where he has taught about medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Jewish art and architecture; Holocaust art and memory; and the history of plastics. Dr. Gruber lives in Syracuse, NY where he is an active member of Temple Concord, is past president of the Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) and is active in local art, history, and architecture efforts.
CSP Partners: Beth Israel (San Diego, CA), Brotherhood Synagogue (Gramercy Park, NYC), Congregation Adath Jeshurun (Elkins Park, PA), Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Jewish Collaborative of Orange County, Shomrei Torah Synagogue (San Fernando Valley, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth David (Westminster, CA),Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Temple Beth Shalom (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Temple Beth Sholom (Santa Ana, CA), Temple Emanuel (Newton, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY), Temple Judea of Laguna Woods, CA, University Synagogue (Irvine, CA), Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA) & Walnut Street Synagogue (Chelsea, MA)