Cover image for Masterworks of the Jewish Museum
Masterworks of the Jewish Museum
Berger, Maurice, 1956-
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Publication Information:
New York : Jewish Museum ; New Haven : Yale University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
253 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm
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N620.J48 A6 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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This beautifully illustrated book explores the culture, history, and beliefs of the Jewish people by presenting an extraordinary selection of works from the collection of The Jewish Museum, New York. Ranging from antiquity to the present day, these artworks and ritual objects include a fourth-century glass vessel and ancient burial plaques; exquisite Torah decorations and marriage contracts; stunningly ornate Hanukkah lamps and spice containers; beautiful paintings and prints by such artists as Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, Marc Chagall, and Ben Shahn; striking contemporary works by Leonard Baskin, Sol LeWitt, George Segal, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, and many others; and selections of video and still images from television and film, ranging from documentaries and dramas to situation comedies.

Two introductory essays discuss the history and significance of The Jewish Museum, followed by a superb range of artworks grouped thematically in categories such as memory and history; spirituality and faith; society, politics, and community; text and representation; and television and culture. Each work is accompanied by a short essay providing description and interpretation. Together the reproductions and lively text tell the fascinating story of how Jewish culture has evolved through the centuries and across continents.

Author Notes

Maurice Berger is Senior Fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at New School University; Joan Rosenbaum is the Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director at the Jewish Museum; Vivian B. Mann is the Morris and Eva Feld Chair in Judaica at The Jewish Museum; and Norman L. Kleeblatt is the Susan and Elihu Rose Curator of Fine Arts at The Jewish Museum.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. In 1986, Treasures of the Jewish Museum was published as the catalog of the New York City museum's exhibition of the same name. Now, on the occasion of the museum's centennial, many of the same experts have contributed to this beautiful and thought-provoking celebration of the museum's collection. Organized thematically (e.g., by cultural history, Jewish ceremonial and historical objects, and sociopolitical history), the 175 color prints highlight the museum's outstanding collection, which spans from antiquity to 21st-century art and includes ritual objects such as wedding canopies, Sabbath lamps, and burial plaques; paintings and sculpture by Tissot, Picasso, Chagall, Motherwell, and George Segal; and photography, television programs, and multimedia presentations. Because most of the work included here was acquired after 1986, this volume updates the previous one. This masterly work celebrating the collection of one of our major museums is highly recommended for public, academic, and synagogue libraries.--Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Choice Review

Elegantly proportioned and beautifully illustrated, this volume was issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Museum in New York. As is typical of such celebratory publications, it features a selection of major and representative works in the museum's collection. The first of two introductory essays, by present director Joan Rosenbaum, traces the history of the institution, first housed in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and since 1947, in the former Warburg mansion on Fifth Avenue. The second one, written by Maurice Berger (New School Univ.), has a more argumentative, if somewhat modishly tendentious tone, in seeking to enlist the museum's acquisition and exhibition policies of recent years in a campaign against the alleged "elitism" of the New York art establishment. The anthology of objects and documents that constitutes the heart of the book is divided into four sections, respectively titled "Memory and History," "Spirituality and Faith," "Society and Politics," and "Portraiture and Identity." A valuable panorama of the museum's rich and varied holdings, compiled in expert fashion by the curatorial staff. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals. W. Cahn emeritus, Yale University

Table of Contents

Joan RosenbaumJoan RosenbaumMaurice Berger
Forewordp. 8
The Jewish Museum and Its Historyp. 10
Museum Without Wallsp. 18
The Collection of The Jewish Museum
Memory and Historyp. 32
Spirituality and Faithp. 88
Society and Politicsp. 166
Portraiture and Identityp. 202
Bibliographyp. 242
Photography Creditsp. 249
Indexp. 250