With a belated reminder of the proximity of the American and French Independent Day celebrations, this talk focuses on the artists’ Schindler, the American journalist, Varian Fry (1907-1967). Using methods both legal and not, Fry managed to rescue some 2,000 individuals from France between 1940 and 1941. France had become largely swallowed up by Nazi Germany, the “free” parts in Southern France (Vichy France) were not necessarily unreluctant to assist with the deportation of Jews into Nazi-held territories, and the US immigration policies were far from open-handed to those seeking refuge. Who was he and who were some of those he helped—or in some cases, could not help—to escape destruction? Lecture by Ori Z. Soltes, introduced and moderated by [...]
In honor of Yom Ha'azmaut, Israel's Independence Day, and this year's 75th anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948, this talk by Georgetown University professor Ori Z Soltes addresses the question of what defines Israeli art and when it began to take shape. Is it made only by Israelis---then how did Elkan's Menorah become the consummate symbol of Israel when he never lived in the state? Did "Israeli" art begin with or before the birth of the state? How does this relate to the opening of the Bezalel School of Art in 1906--and closing by 1929, only to re-open years later? How does it relate to the question of defining Jewish art? Benno Elkan's stunning work, [...]
EARLY ISRAELI AND AMERICAN ARTISTS:
RE-VISIONING THE HOLOCAUST.
Talk by Ori Z Soltes, Georgetown University, Washington DC
In honor of Yom HaShoah, this talk by Georgetown University professor Ori Z Soltes focuses on three Israeli and three American familiar and unfamiliar artists working in very diverse styles and not typically thought of as focusing on the Holocaust. Each of them, however, has offered powerful reflections on the defining catastrophe of the twentieth century. Barnett Newman, the foremost verbal spokesman for the chromatic side of the abstract expressionist movement redefining American painting in the early 1950s, offers an unexpectedly intense reflection on the question of theodicy. Mordecai Ardon, in the process of assuming leadership of the Bezalel school in Jerusalem at around the same time, balances between abstraction and figuration in depicting the Nazi-engendered chaos. Yigal Tumarkin’s [...]
Behind the Bronze.
The Sculptor Maurice Blik (born 1939 Amsterdam)
Featuring Maurice Blik and Julian Freeman (both London, UK)
Maurice Blik has lived in England since being liberated from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, where he was taken as a small child from his birthplace, Amsterdam. The ability to come to terms with this experience and to confront the face of humanity that he has witnessed, stayed silent in his life for some 40 years. It finally found a voice in the passionate sculptures which began to emerge in the late 1970s when he created a series of horses’ heads. These noble and benevolent creatures posses an energy and a life force that seem just barely harnessed long enough to take their shape in the clay itself. Later he progressed to more figurative work in which the irrepressible joy [...]
Ludwig and Else Meidner.
An Artist Couple Exiled in London
Lecture by Erik Riedel, Frankfurt/Main (Germany)
When Ludwig and Else Meidner met in 1925, he was already an established artist well-known for his so-called Apocalyptic Landscapes. Although Else started as Ludwig’s student, she developed a distinct independent style and he always praised her art as more refined than his own “coarse” works. As Else Meidner slowly gained recognition in Berlin art circles, her career was abruptly cut short by the Nazi-regime in 1933. She moved to Cologne with her husband in 1935; and they emigrated to England in 1939 only a few weeks before the war started. In London both lived largely unnoticed by the English art scene. But while Ludwig frustratedly returned to Germany, she decided to stay in England. Their complicated relationship developed from [...]
Death and Immortality:
The Gentle Power of Hans von Trotha’s “Pollak’s Arm”
Hans von Trotha and Ori Z Soltes in conversation
Ludwig Pollak (Prague 1868-1943 Auschwitz) was an extraordinary connoisseur of antiquities--an Austro-Hungarian Jew whose path into academia was impeded by his religion, but who settled in Rome, where he carved out a unique place for himself as an expert in recognizing, understanding, and organizing great works of art. It was he who shaped and articulated the magnificent collections of JP Morgan. Of perhaps even greater consequence, his astute eye saw a sculpted fragment of an arm in a flea market that, he deduced, was the limb missing from the spectacular Hellenistic-Roman sculptural group known as Laocoon. He gifted that arm fragment to the Vatican so that it might complete the work that occupied an important place within [...]