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Chaim Soutine 1893 - 1943The Floor Waiter, circa 1927-28
Leon Zack 1892 - 1980Double Portrait of Men, 1931
Emmanuel Mané-Katz 1894 - 1962Rabbi with the Torah, 1960
Solomon Nikritin 1895 - 1965Screaming Woman, 1928
Issac Dobrinsky 1891 - 1973The Reader (Artist's Wife), circa 1940
Otto Freundlich  1978 - 1943Head (Self Portrait), 1923
Marc Chagall 1887 - 1985Blue Landscape, 1949
Moses Bagel 1908 - 1995The Prohets, 1928
The Human Figure and Jewish Culture
By Eliane Strosberg

Size: 9 5/8" x 11", 208 pages
110 full-color illustrations
Published 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7892-1054-8
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This wide-ranging, intellectually provocative study argues that artists of Jewish descent have been especially devoted to the human figure on account of their cultural heritage. Abundantly illustrated in full color.

"This ambitious book succeeds on several levels... it fills a void in an important area of Jewish cultural studies... through prescient analysis and beautiful reproductions, this volume offers a historical overview of a dazzling array of well- and lesser-known Jewish artists. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal

"The author's breadth of knowledge, her easy-to-read style, and the magnificent illustrations make this book a treasure to own or give as a gift." -- Florida Jewish Journal

"A rich and exciting display of Jewish art... a delightful read... Highly recommended for libraries collecting in the areas of Jewish art and identity." -- Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

In the twentieth century, the avant-garde movements promoted abstraction and formal experimentation in the visual arts, often dispensing with the human form altogether. Yet many artists of Jewish descent resisted this trend and continued to depict the human figure with sympathy and understanding. Few of them portrayed overtly Jewish themes, but—as Eliane Strosberg argues in this thought-provoking volume—their persistent devotion to the human figure was itself a reflection of their Jewishness. Though their individual styles were diverse, they all used the human figure as a means of communicating, in secular terms, aspects of their Jewish intellectual heritage, such as their humanistic values, passion for social justice, and opposition to the nihilism that underlay so much of modern culture. For this reason, their work may be said to constitute an ethical, if not an aesthetic, art movement, which Strosberg aptly dubs “Human Expressionism.”

Strosberg begins her highly readable text with an overview of Jewish tradition that illuminates the mindset of many Jewish artists. She also provides a concise history of Jewish art from Genesis to the Enlightenment, in which she demonstrates that figurative art has actually had a place in Judaism for thousands of years, despite the Second Commandment’s prohibition of graven images. However, Strosberg devotes the greater part of her study to a comparative analysis of those artists who fall under the rubric of Human Expressionism. Though her scope is impressively broad, ranging from Camille Pissarro to George Segal, she pays particular attention to the immigrant painters of the École de Paris, like Soutine and Modigliani; the American social realists, like Ben Shahn and Raphael Soyer; and the masters of the postwar School of London, like Lucian Freud and R. B. Kitaj.

Illustrated with more than one hundred full-color reproductions of works by the artists under discussion, The Human Figure and Jewish Culture is an essential addition to any library of art history or Judaica.

Eliane Strosberg, who holds an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the Free University of Brussels, enjoyed a successful career as an international management consultant. She was also a research fellow at Harvard and has worked in the research laboratory of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Strosberg was cofounder of the cultural organization Rencontres Art et Science; her book Art and Science (Abbeville), produced in cooperation with UNESCO, was translated into several languages.

Julia Weiner, a curator and art critic based in London, has served as head of education at the Courtauld Gallery and as a consultant to the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is currently senior professor of art history at Regent’s American College, London.

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