In the last few decades of the twentieth century, Israeli women artists grew in prominence with works incorporating both feminine and masculine elements and themes of sexuality, political conflict, and identity.
While women are often excluded from the historical narrative of Israeli art-making, women artists made significant contributions to the canon of Israeli art throughout the twentieth century. Depicting landscapes, creating ceramics, and painting beautiful portraits, many female artists made significant contributions to the development of the Bezalel Art school and Israeli modern art. In 1952, the artistic Group of Ten was founded, to use a modern language in order to express the Israeli experience and landscape.
Most Jewish women artists from Austria have been forgotten due to the male domination of the Austrian art sphere and the Holocaust. However, many Jewish female artists in Austria created influential work and established their own system of education and their own organizations, leading to a flourishing female art world until 1938.
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.
Hannah Chizhik was an advocate for women’s emancipation and she was committed to the women workers movement. She became an expert in vegetable farming, agricultural work, and domestic labor for the groups of women pioneers. In 1926 she established a women’s smallholding in Tel Aviv, which became an important center for pioneer youth.
Sonia Delaunay was known for her vivid use of color and her bold, abstract patterns, breaking down traditional distinctions between the fine and applied arts as an artist, designer, and printmaker. She designed costumes for operas and ballets around Europe and created her own fashion design company. Deluanay was the first female artist to have a retrospective show of her work at the Louvre in 1964.
Friedl Dicker was an artist and educator who studied at the Bauhaus school then led art classes at Terezin. In the ghetto, Dicker taught drawing to hundreds of children, designed sets and costumes for children’s performances, and made an exhibition of children’s drawings in a basement. She also created her own sketches, many of which were discovered in the 1980s.
Stella Drabkin was a talented painter and mosaicist who innovated new methods of printmaking. She is known for her experiments with multitype, a variation on monotype printing with layers of texture and color, creating mosaic panels on biblical themes, and creating prints with poems. Following her death, in 1972 the Art Alliance established the Stella Drabkin Memorial Award Fund in her honor.
Dulcea of Worms was the wife of Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, a major rabbinic figure. They were part of the elite leadership class of medieval Germany Jewry. Eleazar’s account of Dulcea’s murder in 1196 is an important source for the activities of medieval Jewish women.
Lillian Simon Freehof (1906-2004) was a leader in developing transcription services for people with visual impairments and blindness, working with Sisterhood volunteers at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA, and, at the national level, with the Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now WRJ). She also wrote books and plays for children and young adults and books on needlework and Jewish festivals for adults. She was the wife of Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof.
London-born Marti Friedlander migrated to New Zealand in 1958. She became one of the country’s most outstanding and influential photographers in portraiture, photo-journalism, photo-books, and “street” photography. Her photographs still live vigorous public lives in exhibitions, books, and periodicals published after her death.
Joyce Kozloff is an internationally recognized painter, public muralist, and feminist whose long-term passions have been history, culture, and the decorative and popular arts. One of the founders of the pattern and decoration movement, Kozloff is dedicated to creating her own work and giving the folk art of women of color a voice. Kozloff is known as one of America’s more original and engaging artists.
Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle, a Sephardi woman, risked her life over and over again to aid to her community during World War II. At a later stage in her life, Bouena’s historical-literary acumen enabled her to record Jewish life in Salonika during the twentieth century, including the devastation to her community at the hands of the Nazis.
Bertha Schaefer broadened the definition of interior decorator to designer, innovator, and pioneer in integrating fine arts and architecture with interior design. Schaefer’s two New York City businesses – an interior design firm and an art gallery – showcased defining features of the postwar period, garnering her significant praise and attention in the world of art and design.
Feisty and opinionated, Sylvia Sidney was quite the opposite of the waiflike victim of social oppression she played in Hollywood’s Depression Era films. While she disliked playing the victim, her vulnerability and working-class persona resonated with audiences. She earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams, took on a comic role as the caseworker in Beetlejuice, and played a sympathetic grandmother in one of the first TV movies about AIDS, An Early Frost.
Chloe Wise uses her art to comment on consumer culture, most famously through her Bread Bags series, which creates purses made of realistic-looking bakery items, adorned with the straps, logos, and hardware of designer bags.