Tag Archive | Jewish Museum

Modern Art Monday Presents: Deborah Kass, OY YO

OY YO
Photos By Gail

Since the 1980s, Deborah Kass has riffed on modern artworks by famous white men to reflect her experience as a Jewish lesbian. Here, Kass remakes Robert Indiana’s LOVE (itself a coded homage to queer male desire) with the twinned words Oy (a Yiddish exclamation of alarm or bother) and Yo.

OY YO

The artist considers herself to be a “total, absolute, 100 percent provincial New Yorker.” This work uses the city’s culturally specific, yet universal lingo to communicate the collective pride and exasperation of living here. Originally conceived as a monumental sculpture, it was installed for limited time in Brooklyn Bridge Park. OY/YO (2017) became an instant New York icon and photo op for tourists and residents of al backgrounds, for whom the pluralist spirit of the double-sided interjection resonated deeply

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Hannah Wilke, Venus Pareve

Hannah Wilke Venus Pareve 
All Photos By Gail

Hannah Wilke (1940 – 1993) was a leading artist of the feminist art movement that began in the 1970s. Her primary subject was her own body, explored in sculptures, drawings, photographs, and performance as part of a larger investigation of femininity and sexuality.  Venus Pareve (1982 – 84) comprises twenty-five sculptural self-portraits, hand-modeled and then cast in plaster of Paris or edible kosher chocolate.

Hannah Wilke Venus Pareve 

Wilke often presents herself in the role Venus, the Roman goddess of Love, sex and fertility. These figures, like many celebrated classical sculptures of the goddess, lack arms and legs — their beauty is without agency; they are helpless objects of desire.

Hannah Wilke Venus Pareve 

The title, too, mimics the names of famous Greek and Roman states: Venus de Milo, Venus Pudica, Venus Genetrix. Pareve, however, is a Hebrew term from Jewish dietary law, signifying food that contains neither dairy nor meat and that therefore may be eaten without restriction. Venus Pareve critiques the perception of woman’s bodies as objects of consumption.

Hannah Wilke Venus Pareve 
The Painting on the wall in the background is Double Portrait (Gay Flag) by Ross Bleckner.

Photographed in The Jewish Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Chaim Soutine, Still Life with Rayfish

Still Life with Ray Fish
Photos By Gail

In Still Life with Ray Fish (1924), Chaim Soutine animates the components of this still life with a dynamic composition and energetic brush strokes. The rayfish (a fish similar to skate and fit for human consumption) presides over a table with its mouth agape, as though caught in a cry. The exposed flesh and spilled tomatoes imply and unsettling violence.

The Ray

The work’s motif was inspired by The Ray, a masterpiece by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin. Rather than copying Chardin, Soutine set up similar objects in his studio and painted them from life, creating four versions in varying formats. Compared with Chardin’s painting, Soutine reduces the number of objects in the scene and crops the background to emphasize the expressive features of the ray.

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Chaim Soutine: Flesh, at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan (On Loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Eye On Design: Skull Cap By Sol LeWitt

Skull Cap By Sol Lewitt
Photos By Gail

A pioneer of Minimal and Conceptual art, Sol LeWitt (19282007) is known for large-scale, geometric wall drawings, often using bold stripes of pure color to create rhythmic optical patterns. In 2001, he conceived the doors of a Torah ark for Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, Connecticut, with the design of a six-pointed star within a circle.  The pattern was later repeated on this leather Skull Cap. The translation of LeWitt’s signature Minimalist style into a multicolored item of Judaica is at once cheerful and graphically striking.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

Skull Cap By Sol Lewitt

Modern Art Monday Presents: Eva Hesse, Untitled Abstract Painting

Untitled Abstract Painting
Photo By Gail

This Untitled Abstract Painting (circa 1963 or 64) is one of the last paintings made by Eva Hesse before she switched to sculpture. Its deconstructed symbols, figures, and shapes evoke natural forms and bodies without ever being directly identifiable. Delicate brushwork, soft colors and a light, witty touch lend this work a feminine quality that she intended as a rebuke to the masculinity of Minimalist ArtHess was reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex at this time, and the text led her to question her own fragmented status as artist, woman and wife. Her work, though not overtly political, explores these issues in poetic, expressive abstractions.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Lee Krasner, Self Portrait

Lee Krasner Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

A powerful rendering by the artist in her twenties, this picture was made with a practical purpose; it was painted as a reception piece for admission to the life-drawing course at the National Academy of Design. While Lee Krasner (19081984) is best known for the personal style that she developed within the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 19540s, this self portrait (c. 1930) is a rare example of her early work, using the thick brushwork and high color of the Impressionists and Realists of the previous generation. Strikingly, Krasner depicts herself at work in nature. She eyes the viewer, who stands on the spot where, presumably, a mirror hangs on a tree. Her expression and strong handling of light and shade evoke the resolve of a young woman rising to the challenge of her artistic vocation.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

Eye On Design: Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire
All Photos By Gail

In the 1980s, Judaica artists began to reexamine the form of the Hanukkah lamp, which according to rabbinical prescription should have eight lights in a straight row and on the same level, with a ninth set off from them.  Peter Shire (b. 1947) typically takes familiar objects and reimagines their shapes, colors and materials so that we barely recognize them.

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

In his Menorah #7  (1986), a mixture of pastel and hot colors, industrial metals and a cantilevered, swirling arrangement of parts  challenge the modernist aesthetic of simplicity that had dominated design for a century. This post-modernism was a key design principe of the Memphis Design Group to which Shire belonged.

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

Photographed in The Jewish Museum in Manhattan.