Museums

The City, On The Brink Of War

N.Y. Historical Society exhibit examines city’s role in World War II. A take on the show by one who was there.

11/20/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

In our collective consciousness, New York City during World War II often conjures up imagery of sailors “On the Town,” the “Stage Door Canteen” and Alfred Eisenstadt’s iconic photo of a sailor and a nurse in Times Square celebrating Japan’s surrender with a kiss. Except for an occasional History Channel glimpse of a troop ship leaving the harbor or a nod to the distant past from a gentrifying Brooklyn Navy Yard, the city is remembered, if at all, as a convenient recreational stop before American GIs moved on to more serious work overseas.

Jews at Nazi protest in New York in November 1938. Photos courtesy N.Y. Historical Society

Apartheid In (Mostly) Black-And-White

10/03/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

In South Africa, apartheid institutionalized racial segregation in every facet of life and the struggle against it took many forms. From the outset, photography was a critical element both in documenting the impact of the system and the resistance to it.

The International Center of Photography has put together an extraordinarily wide-ranging exhibition that spans the Afrikaner nationalist ascension to power in 1948 through Nelson Mandela’s assumption of the presidency in 1993.

In Gideon Mendel’s 1984 photograph, a German shepherd guards the entrance to a Johannesburg suburb.

‘Cultures Are Talking Through The Books’

Jewish, Christian and Islamic manuscripts, side by side, at The Jewish Museum.

09/19/2012
Jewish Week Book Critic

To see the Rambam’s handwriting up close is astonishing. Two of his handwritten works are behind glass, part of The Jewish Museum’s new exhibit, “Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries.” His autograph draft of his comprehensive legal code, or Mishneh Torah, dates back to around 1180. Its black Hebrew letters are written in a cursive Sephardic script, with many letters joined, as though the philosopher, rabbi, doctor and leading figure in the medieval Jewish world were writing in a hurry, without lifting the pen very often.

A page of commentary on Jewish law, from Provence, Italy, 1438.

Magnes Merger Has Its Costs

Partnership with UC-Berkeley seen mostly as a boon but questions linger about prized collection’s independence.

04/03/2012
Staff Writer

The new home of the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life, a Bay Area institution renowned for its archives of material relating to Jews in the American West, displays all the museum’s ambition. 

The Magnes Collection, founded 50 years ago, has the largest collection of archives of Jews in the American West.

Portraits Of Israelis As Young Men

Israel through the eyes of a different kind of Old Master.

03/20/2012
Staff Writer

The case is sometimes made that when it comes to telling truths about Israel — be they good, bad or ugly — it’s probably best to have a Jew do it. But Kehinde Wiley, a gay black artist from South Central Los Angeles, may be offering the definitive rebuke to that notion.

Ethiopian Jews like Kalkidan Mashasha, below, complicated artist Kehinde Wiley’s views about race and identity.

Illuminating The Chanukah Context

Cervera Bible on display at Met shows the brighter side of Sephardic Jewish history.

12/13/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts eight days, but New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating over the course of eight weeks, in the form of its recently opened exhibition “Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible: Medieval Jewish Art in Context,” on display through Jan. 16. And the contexts are plural, not singular.

The image of a golden menorah framed by a pair of olive trees is the most famous from the “Cervera Bible".

Light Haunted By Darkness

Maurice Sendak handpicked menorahs from The Jewish Museum’s collection for a new show, and they reflect his life and work.

12/13/2011
Staff Writer

If you happened to have been at The Jewish Museum’s new holiday exhibit, “An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak,” last week, you would have noticed one menorah was missing. 

Thirty-three lamps are on display, all of them hand-picked by Sendak, the revered children’s book author, most famously of “Where the Wilds Things Are.” But there was an empty space under the small placard that read: “Hanukkah Lamp, Landsberg am Lech, Germany, 1945.”

Where had it gone? Why was it missing?

The missing menorah: The Jewish Museum’s menorah that was created in a post-war D.P.

Illuminating The Chanukah Context

Cervera Bible on display at Met shows the brighter side of Sephardic Jewish history.

12/07/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts eight days, but New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating over the course of eight weeks, in the form of its recently opened exhibition “Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible: Medieval Jewish Art in Context,” on display through Jan. 16. And the contexts are plural, not singular.

Menorah from the Cervera Bible.

A Revolutionary Torah

Shearith Israel scroll, with burn marks still on it, is centerpiece of New-York Historical Society’s reopening exhibit.

11/15/2011
Staff Writer

In August 1776, George Washington and his troops retreated to Manhattan Island. The British had just routed his rebel army in Long Island, and Washington tried desperately to hold onto what little perch of New York he could. But by November, the British expelled his army from Manhattan, which the British occupied throughout the Revolutionary war.

The Shearith Israel Torah scroll that was burned by the invading British army, in 1776.

Photographers Taking It To The Streets

Jewish Museum’s ‘Radical Camera’ show highlights the pioneering work of the N.Y. Photo League.

11/08/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

The juxtaposition in the photograph, like the contrast between the makeshift encampment at Zuccotti Park and the soaring tower of Goldman Sachs’ headquarters, is glaring. On a gritty street on the Lower East Side, the two sides of a tenement building tell a tale of haves and have-nots, the 1 percent and the 99. In Erika Stone’s striking black-and-white photo, a family’s gray underthings hang limply on a clothesline, framed by the tenement’s fading brick, while on the adjoining wall a well-coiffed and full-lipped blonde in an advertisement gazes sexily upward, a boxy ring on her finger and a sleek watch on her wrist.

Soul of the city: Bernard Cole’s “Shoemaker’s Lunch,” from 1944. ©Estate of Bernard Cole
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