Celebrating Jewish Art for the New Year

Today is the beginning of Rosh Hashanan: a very Happy New Year to all my Jewish family and friends.

In celebration I want to showcase, through video, three Jewish artists. First enjoy
Itzchak Tarkay (1935–2012) an Israeli artist who was born on the Yugoslav-Hungarian border.

In 1944, Tarkay and his family were sent to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, until Allied liberation freed them a year later. In 1949, his family emigrated to Israel, living in a kibbutz for several years. Tarkay attended the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design from 1951, and graduated from the Avni Institute of Art and Design in 1956.

Tarkay's art is influenced by French Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, particularly Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. His work was exhibited at the International Art Expo in New York City in 1986 and 1987. He has been the subject of three books, published by Dr. Israel Perry. Perry Art Gallery And Park West Gallery, his dealer.

His art is focussed on almost dream images of elegant women in classical scenes which draw you into an imaginary world.

Next the famous and best known of all Jewish artists and certainly one of my favourites Marc Chagall (1887-1985), a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin.

An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in virtually every artistic format, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

And finally the remarkable works of Canadian born artist Miriam Schapiro (1923– 2015) of Russian Jewish background who lived most of her life in the United States.

She was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, and a pioneer of feminist art. She was also considered a leader of the Pattern and Decoration art movement. Schapiro's artwork blurs the line between fine art and craft. She incorporated craft elements into her paintings due to their association with women and femininity. Schapiro’s work touches on the issue of feminism and art: especially in the aspect of feminism in relation to abstract art.

Schapiro honed in her domesticated craft work and was able to create work that stood amongst the rest of the high art. These works represent Schapiro’s identity as an artist working in the center of contemporary abstraction and simultaneously as a feminist being challenged to represent women’s "consciousness" through imagery. She often used icons that are associated with women, such as hearts, floral decorations, geometric patterns, and the color pink. In the 1970s she made the hand fan, a typically small woman's object, heroic by painting it six feet by twelve feet.

"The fan-shaped canvas, a powerful icon, gave Schapiro the opportunity to experiment... Out of this emerged a surface of textured coloristic complexity and opulence that formed the basis of her new personal style. The kimonos, fans, houses, and hearts were the form into which she repeatedly poured her feelings and desires, her anxieties, and hopes".

When you watch the video you will see an image of Frida Kahlo because, as explained below, Miriam Schapiro wanted to pay homage to great female artists of the past.

Schapiro not only honored the craft tradition in women's art, but also paid homage to women artists of the past. In the early 1970s she made paintings and collages which included photo reproductions of past artists such as Mary Cassatt.

In the mid 1980s she painted portraits of Frida Kahlo on top of her old self-portrait paintings. In the 1990s Schapiro began to include women of the Russian Avant Garde in her work. The Russian Avant Garde was an important moment in Modern Art history for Schapiro to reflect on because women were seen as equals.