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.
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.
For three decades Judy Chicago has melded politics with art through painting, sculpture, writing, and teaching.
Although few Jews were sculptors in nineteenth-century America, in part due to the biblical prohibition against creating graven images, Katherine Cohen, a sculptor from Philadelphia with elite academic training, exhibited figurative works, often of Jewish subjects, in an era when women and Jews achieved slight renown in the art world.
At a time when figurative work has not been an artistic imperative, Frank imparts a sense of the timeless and elemental to her work, placing her among the foremost figurative artists of our time.
Artist and innovator in Jewish art education, Temima Gezari was born Fruma Nimtzowitz in Pinsk, Russia, on December 21, 1905.
Gego, born Gertrude Goldschmidt, was one of Venezuela’s most creative and ingenious artists. Her sculptures have not only a sense of closure but also a boundlessness erasing any distance between viewer and artist and insisting on generating new perspectives.
Eva Hesse is recognized as one of the most innovative and potent artists to emerge in New York in the fertile 1960s. She created new sculptural forms in such eccentric materials as latex and fiberglass, and has become known for giving minimal art organic, emotional, and kinetic aspects. Her material and formal inventions, with their sensuous and emotional extremes, were balanced by an active verbal intelligence that won her the respect of the art community—as her warmth and wry humor won her many friends.
Elena Kabischer, a graphic artist, painter and sculptor was born on March 23, 1903 in Vitebsk into the family of a craftsman. In 1916 she started studying in the private School of Drawing and Painting managed by Yehuda Pen (1854–1937), the oldest of Vitebsk painters, among whose pupils were also Marc Chagall (1887–1985) and Eliezer Lisitsky (1890–1941).
Rose Kohler was a multitalented woman who was known as an accomplished painter and sculptor. She was a teacher in, and later the chair of, the National Council of Jewish Women’s religious schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, and wrote many articles on art and religion.
One of the founders of the Pattern and Decoration movement in America in the 1970s, 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.
Gertrud Kraus, the “first lady” of modern expressionistic dance in Israel, was born in Vienna on May 5, 1901.
Through portrait sculptures, reliefs and memorials sculpted in stone, wood and bronze, the work of Batia Lichansky, Israel’s first woman sculptor, expresses the pioneer Zionist spirit during the formative years of the State of Israel and its struggle for existence.
Charlotte Schacht Lipsky, interior decorator, was born in Riga, Latvia, in December 1879. The eldest of five children, she was the only girl. Lipsky immigrated to the United States in 1895, accompanied by her mother, who lived with Lipsky until her death. Upon arriving in the United States, Lipsky immediately involved herself in politics, specifically in the Jewish socialist movement, becoming one of “Emma Goldman’s girls” on the Lower East Side of New York.
Gertrud Amon Natzler’s collaboration with her husband, Otto Natzler, over almost four decades produced some of the twentieth century’s finest ceramics.
Louise Nevelson belongs to a generation of Manhattan-based painters and sculptors who were born at the close of the nineteenth century and whose careers spanned the twentieth, coinciding with the development of modernism in America.
Variously described in the pages of the New York Times in the 1920s and 1930s as writer, poet, and artist, Isadora Newman found creative expression in a variety of media. Two themes, however, run through this diversity: a respect for the ability of children to see freshly and a lasting impression of the black and Creole heritage of her native New Orleans.
Critics have always found dignity and humor, plus “an unerringly true adjustment of weight to line” in the sculpture of Chana Orloff, one of the “Ecole de Paris,” who said that she wanted her works “to be as alive as life …”
During World War II, sculptor Virginia Morris Pollak used her deep understanding of clay, plaster, and metal to revolutionize reconstructive surgery for wounded servicemen. This earned her a presidential citation, and she was later appointed to JFK’s Commission for the Employment of the Handicapped. Pollak also co-founded her own sculpture studio and chaired the Norfolk Fine Arts Commission, beautifying her hometown with an outdoor sculpture museum at the Botanic Garden.
The celebrated painter and sculptor Antoinetta Raphael, whose artistic works vividly portray both the imaginary and the familiar.
Miriam (Mimi) Schapiro is one of the foremost pioneers in the feminist art movement in the United States. Nicknamed “Mimi Appleseed” after Johnny Appleseed whose dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere, she has opened paths previously closed and unknown to women artists, past and present, trained and untrained.
The body is omnipresent in the work of Hannah Wilke. Her typically nude body and its self-representation became the vehicle by which Wilke exposed personal, political, and linguistic themes. Like the work of her feminist peers of the 1970s, Wilke’s art has often been oversimplified by critics, yet it continues to influence the complex art of postmodern artists today.