Jacob Perlow Series

Is There A Jewish Art?

Is There A Jewish Art?

Jed Perl photo by Kelsey Floyd
Photo by Kelsey Floyd

A public lecture to be delivered by art critic Jed Perl with an introduction by Robert Boyers, English Department

Wednesday, November 2, 8 PM,
Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall • Free and open to the public

The Jewish tradition has been grappling with the power of visual experience for thousands of years, from the Second Commandment’s rejection of graven images to the work of El Lissitzky, Marc Chagall, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. What can we learn from this rich, many-faceted evolution? Is there a Jewish art or a Jewish tradition in the arts?

Jed Perl will argue that there is a tradition – a tradition grounded not in naturalistic experience but in the power of the visual arts to order our experience of the world. In a lecture ranging from the descriptions of the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus to the contemporary painter R. B. Kitaj’s First Diasporist Manifesto, Perl will examine paintings and ritual objects as well as the architecture of synagogues and the arrangement of the dinner table for the Sabbath meal. We will see how major twentieth-century art historians and critics have grappled with the relationship between ancient traditions and modern avowals. The Jewish tradition in the visual arts, with its rejection of naturalistic representation, foreshadows modernity’s vision of the arts as a reshaping of reality – or an alternate reality.

This presentation is part of the Jacob Perlow Event Series sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Special Programs. Funding is provided by endowments established by Jacob Perlow and by Beatrice Troupin.

 About the Jacob Perlow Series: A generous grant from the estate of Jacob Perlow - an immigrant to the United States in the 1920s, a successful business man deeply interested in religion and philosophy, and a man who was committed to furthering Jewish education - supports annual lectures and presentations to the College and Capital District community on issues broadly related to Jews and Judaism.

Is There A Jewish Art?