When you think of Judaica and Jewish art, the first thing that might pop up in your mind is the Star of David or the symbols that celebrate the history of the Torah. Two contradictory factors have always influenced the Jewish attitude towards art. Some interpret the Second Commandment or banning of “graven images” as a prohibition against visual creations as they might be used for worship. Another factor that affects their attitude towards art is the value of hiddur mitzvah, which improves the creation of sacred places and beautiful ritual items.
Some Jewish artists show different relationships with their Jewishness in their visual arts and others who don’t. Jewish art has been a common feature in Jewish synagogues and homes for years. Examples include the art of micrography that uses sacred texts and words to create drawings, the Mizrach that is placed on a home’s eastern wall to remind the family where they should direct their prayers and the shivitti that’s placed in the synagogue to focus attention. Kiddush cups, candlesticks and mezuzot were usually used in Jewish ceremonial art or Judaica.
With the establishment and settling of Israel in the twentieth century, Jewish art saw further developments. A lot of young Jews came to Israel during the pre-state period as halutzim or pioneers, and their art showed their connection to their land. Jewish immigrants from different parts of the world have brought with them their artistic feelings and training molded by their host culture.
Anna Ticho, a Jewish artist, showcased detailed charcoal and pencil drawings of the Judean hills. Her works depicted the vivid colors of nature around her. She also drew portraits of local people. Romanian-born Israeli painter Reuven Rubin who studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem painted in a manner that depicted love for the land. His works include romanticized visions of modern and ancient Israel. Israeli experimental artist and sculptor Yaakov Agam has gained international attention for his contributions to kinetic and optical art.
Today, Jewish art has become more sophisticated as trained artists focus their feelings and skills on these crafts.
During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, most of the evidence of Jewish art is limited to manuscript illustrations and construction of synagogues. Countries that have strong Muslim influences had less physical illustrations of human forms in art because Muslims spurn such literal representations of human forms. The nature of Jewish education may have also played a role in the supposedly small scope of Jewish art. Since the Jewish communities have great familiarity with Biblical stories, it was needless to depict them in a way that the Christian community was doing for the unschooled masses.
The Torah that details the elaborate design of the Tabernacle didn’t inspire lavish synagogue architecture in this era. Some synagogues in the Renaissance, Medieval and Middle Ages had stained glass, but it was unremarkable due to various reasons such as the economic and political weakness of Jewish communities associated with church controls and the desire of the Jewish communities not to attract attention. The Jewish ritual objects that were designed in this era and continue to be made to this day were more remarkable. These objects were made for the sake of hiddur mitzvah or the idea of embellishing a commandment and the items used to do it with beauty. Havdalah spice boxes and Torah crowns are examples of such objects.
The coming of the Age of Reason or Enlightenment led to a greater recognition of Jews, which allowed Jewish artists to practice more freely. Familiar figures such as Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani, Camille Pissarro, and Chaim Soutine became more popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Marc Chagall incorporated his immigrant experience and Jewish background into his works. Many of his paintings show figures of his childhood in Belorussia.
Danish-French painter Camille Pissarro is best known for his contributions to both Post-Impressionism and Impressionism. The painting style of Italian Jewish painter Modigliani included elongated faces that represent African masks. Russian-French painter Chaim Soutine is of Jewish origin and made major contributions to the expressionist movement. He developed a unique style that focused on texture, shape, and color over-representation. This style served as a bridge between the developing Abstract Expressionism and more traditional painting approaches. Modern Jewish artists show a modern-day style of Biblical wanderings and the reality of persecution, devastations, and wars in their work. Their art pieces reflect the reality of wandering in the history of the Jews.
One of the reasons why you should invest in Judaica and Jewish art is to celebrate the Jewish faith. The Jewish faith is the foundation for many churches and religious studies today. Whether you are moving forward to another belief or you stick to the traditional study, Judaica can be celebrated by anybody that honors the culture, beauty, and faith that comes from the past. Investing in Judaica and Jewish art is an excellent way to show your love and belief.
You can also give it as a gift. There are Jewish celebrations throughout the year that encourage giving, reflection and prayers. You can find a Judaica art that celebrates the event and your relationship with that individual. By giving a piece of art, you can make someone happy and observe the tradition as well.
There are many reasons why you may want to invest in Judaica and Jewish art. Regardless of your reason, these artistic creations are a great investment for anyone who wants to celebrate his faith. Jewish art has a unique artistic touch that you won’t find anywhere else. There are online stores that are focused on Jewish art so that you can choose from a wide range of options. You will find beauty in the past, present, and future with Jewish art. Whether you are Jewish or have friends of Jewish origin, investing in Judaica and Jewish art is one of the best things that you can do for yourself or them.