In the twentieth century, Jewish women played a disproportionate role in the development of American consumer culture because of a combination of factors. For one, American industry became increasingly consumer-oriented, and consumer industries were comparatively open to small entrepreneurs. For another, Jewish immigrants and their children tended to display strong entrepreneurial tendencies.
“M.A.” and “The Mighty Atom,” as Mildred Albert was called, charmed the fashion world as an international fashion consultant, lecturer, columnist, and radio and television personality.
Noted both in Israel and abroad, Ziva Amishai-Maisels is a researcher of modern art, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
A seminal figure in the history of performance art, Eleanor Antin is one of the most prolific artists of the last three decades, moving freely in many forms of media, including live and installation art, independent film, photography, video, drawing, painting and writing.
Diane Arbus changed how the world looks at photographs and how photographs look at the world. Best known for her pictures of “freaks” and eccentrics such as “The Jungle Creep,” “The Marked Man,” and nudists, she also changed the world of children’s fashion photography and celebrity photography.
The mass-immigration from Europe after 1933 brought many architects, amongst whom were a number of women.
Largely self-taught, Arnold was the first American woman to be accepted into Magnum Photos, a cooperative photography agency that in the 1950s helped photographers gain artistic and financial control of their work. Inspired by Magnum members such as Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arnold took photographs for major newsmagazines such as Life. Her well-known studies of China, women, political figures like Senator Joseph McCarthy and Malcolm X, and movie stars like Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe have placed her among the top American photographers.
Launching a business devoted to women’s skin care in 1959 with $400 she had earned from baby-sitting, Arpel is now president and CEO of Adrien Arpel, Inc., an enterprise with approximately 500 salons across the United States and Canada.
It is now generally considered that while men and women shared the same fate and their daily existence in the internment and concentration camps was more or less similar, differences between the sexes did exist. Such differences are reflected in the works of art produced in the camps.
American Jewish women have made major contributions to the art world as artists, photographers, gallery owners, museum curators, art critics, art historians, and collectors at least since the beginning of the twentieth century.
In narratives or abridged cycles more or less faithful to the biblical text, art has portrayed biblical women as role models and reference, occasionally adding exegetical elements both Christian and Jewish. Although the text of the Bible became fixed at different dates and in various versions, these images are not fixed, but reflect the ebb and flow in society’s attitudes towards women and their role.
The earliest recorded native Anglo-Jewish artist was Catherine da Costa (1678?–1756), daughter of the physician to Charles II, who studied under the famous drawing master and engraver Bernard Lens and painted portraits of her family and other members of the early Anglo-Jewish community in a charming, though somewhat naive style. Not until a hundred years later did another Jewish woman, Rebecca Solomon, make any impact whatsoever on the English art scene.
A number of studies from the mid-1980s onward have demonstrated the impact of the Holocaust on visual art, in particular for artists who themselves experienced the agony of the Holocaust, but also among their contemporaries. These artists portrayed the Holocaust’s atrocities and responded to the horrific trauma through various forms of expression. Now, more than sixty years after the Holocaust, it is apparent that its impact has carried over into the works of so-called “second generation” artists as well.
By focusing on Jewish women artists working in Britain today, whose Jewishness and gender are central to their artistic output, it offered valuable insights into the diverse ways in which women perceive their Jewishness in contemporary Britain. Aware of their complex “otherness” as women, Jews and artists, they put that awareness to good creative use; and in so doing, proved that art has a crucial role to play in exploring—and perhaps crystallizing—issues of identity.
The 1970s were a conceptual and political period in Israeli art. Art during these years expressed the plural form—of the nation, the society and of modern art.
Women in general and Jewish women in particular have been participating in the artistic life of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for over a hundred years.
Until the 1970s women were always a minority among Israeli artists and most of them either followed the men or worked outside the leading artistic movements. Although the early twentieth-century Yishuv (the Jewish settlement in Palestine) was a pioneering society with egalitarian ideals, it was (like every society in the world) ultimately led and directed by men, and so too were the various artistic groups.
The life of Ellen (Rosenberg) Auerbach was a constant journey of self-discovery and, in her photographic work, a search for the essence that lies behind people and things. Her curious mind, her keen and intuitive eye and her sense of humor permeated her photography, which was re-discovered in the late 1970s, along with that of other avant-garde photographers and artists of the Weimar Republic. Auerbach belonged to the generation of New Women who sought to break with traditional female roles and become independent through their work.
Although modern Austrian art attracted a high proportion of Jewish women, most of them are forgotten today both because of the male ethos of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life which relegated women to the domestic domain, and because of the Holocaust which robbed many Jewish women artists of their lives and erased their artistic achievements from popular recognition.
Lauren Bacall’s 1944 Hollywood debut in To Have and Have Not catapulted this young Jewish actress into instant stardom. Costarring with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart, Bacall soon became known for “The Look”—downturned head, eyes looking up, suggestive of a young woman sexually wise beyond her years. She and Bogart were one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, both on screen and off, and Bacall was famous for her characterizations of women whose strong will complemented, rather than detracted from, their sexual attraction.
The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.
Artist Eugenie Baizerman rarely exhibited her work and never sold a painting during her lifetime. According to her husband, sculptor Saul Baizerman, although she sought a quiet life to focus on her work, she nevertheless experienced an inner turmoil that manifested itself in the free, expressionistic colors of her canvases.
Ora Bat Chaim, who began a new phase of life as a serious composer at the age of fifty-eight, went on to create over four hundred musical compositions.
Dutch-born Sarah Bavly was a pioneer nutritionist in the Yishuv who laid the groundwork for Israel's nutritional infrastructure and educational programming, directing Hadassah's hospital nutrition departments and school lunch programs, and establishing the State's first College of Nutrition.
Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker was the first woman writer to have her work published in her country of birth, Algeria, whose generous land and mixed population she praised in Pays de flamme (Land of Flame).