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Art

Entrepreneurs

The dictionary definition of entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Following this definition to its logical conclusion, every pre-modern woman who managed a household was an entrepreneur since the household, at least until the seventeenth—in some places until the eighteenth—century, was an economic enterprise. For the purposes of this article, however, we have limited this broad definition of entrepreneurship, concentrating on women who specialized in commerce, selling what they themselves produced or what others produced and, in later centuries, women who were actively involved in the money economy.

Dulcea of Worms

Dulcea of Worms came from the elite leadership class of medieval German Jewry. She was the daughter of a cantor and the wife of a major rabbinic figure, Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (1165–1230), also known as the Roke’ah (the Perfumer), after the title of one of his most famous works (Sefer ha-Roke’ah). Dulcea and her husband were members of a small pietistic circle of Jews, the Hasidei Ashkenaz, that developed following the devastations of the First Crusade of 1096. The documents of this movement include many mystical works, as well as a volume reflecting their ethical concerns, Sefer Hasidim (The Book of the Pious), an important historical source for everyday Jewish life in medieval Ashkenaz. R. Eleazar ben Judah may have written some of the passages in Sefer Hasidim, and could have been its editor.

Celia Dropkin

The explicitly sexual imagery and themes of Celia Dropkin’s poems redefined the ways modern Yiddish poetry could depict relationships between women and men. Beautifully crafted lyrics, Dropkin’s poems undo the poetic conventions implicit in their very forms and, with their anger and passion, call into question societal assumptions about love. These poems open up a woman’s psyche in a voice that sounds contemporary in the 1990s. Even her poems about depression, about mother love, and about nature are infused with erotic energy. Best known for her poetry, Dropkin also published short stories and was an accomplished visual artist.

Stella Drabkin

In her 1938 self-portrait, Stella Drabkin depicts herself with extraordinarily large eyes, widened to take in the world. Some thirty years later, in a haiku to accompany the multitype Birds of Prey, she wrote, “The eye of the eagle sees what you do not … aware as the artist.” The application of the artist’s eye was the constant in Stella Drabkin’s varied undertakings as painter, printmaker, mosaicist, and author.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

More than half a century after the death of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, researchers from many countries and from diverse disciplines began to express a new interest in her, focusing respectively on her paintings, furniture and stage designs, and her teaching in Theresienstadt (Terezin), a ghetto established by the Germans in Czechoslovakia.

Sonia Delaunay

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.

Ida Dehmel

Ida Dehmel (née Coblenz) was born in Bingen am Rhein, the daughter of a prosperous Jewish family, whose genealogy on her father’s maternal side can be traced back to the year 1735. Her father Simon Zacharias (1836–1910) became a partner in the wine merchant firm of Joseph Philip Meyer, marrying Meyer’s daughter, Emilie (1840–1878). The couple had five children: Elise or “Alice” (1864–1935), Julie Hedwig (1865–1935), Cornelius (1866–1922), who died in Worthing, Sussex, Ida (1870–1942) and Marie Louise, or “Lulu” (1877–1892). Emilie’s early death in 1878, six months after a complicated childbirth, meant that the family was raised in a patriarchal milieu that was dominated by firm rituals, decorum and etiquette. However, their stern upbringing was relieved by the close proximity of their late mother’s parents, the Meyers, who resided nearby in a large family house on the Marktplatz (market square). In the unpublished autobiography of her youth, which she started in 1901 (entitled Urschrift) and which was reworked during the 1920s and in 1940 as a novel (entitled Daja), Ida fondly recalled her grandmother, who was Paris-born and who took a keen interest in her grand-daughter’s well-being (Daja, 7–9, in HH 1970, 3).

Ruth Dar

“A stage set is like a painting that comes to life, becoming three-dimensional. Like a moving sculpture!” (Ruth Dar in Hotem, December 29, 1978). “I call this profession ‘painter’ and not set designer. I paint with space and costumes, and in my eyes there is no real difference between the two because the costumes are part of the concept of the space … Since I’m a minimalist, there is nothing extraneous on stage. Every little object that is there has a reason, and it has to have a place in the whole. I prefer to telegraph a spatial concept. For this reason, I have never done a set of a room with four walls and a few chairs” (Ha-Ir, June 12, 1997).

Lucille Corcos

Lucille Corcos was, for some thirty years, the doyenne of the “modern primitivist” trend on the American art scene. Her paintings, with their composite urban scenes, are often views into various buildings that the observer generally sees only from the outside and in passing; Corcos turns them inside-out before the eye of the viewer. The work is literally “revealing.” As such, it is touching, witty, and thoroughly delightful to contemplate. Though Corcos paid little heed to conventions of scale and perspective, her work is far from abstract, and her renderings are painterly and nuanced.

Jo Copeland

Jo Copeland was an innovative fashion designer who was noted for using unusual fabrics in unusual ways.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Art." (Viewed on February 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/art>.

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