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The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128
212.423.3200

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Upcoming Events

Sun, Apr 23

Sunday, April 23, 2017

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10 AM

Picture This!

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Sun, Apr 23

Sunday, April 23, 2017

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11:30 AM

Elizabeth Mitchell and You are My Flower
Family Concert

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Sun, Apr 23

Sunday, April 23, 2017

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1 PM

Studio Art Sessions
Artful Rubbings

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Mon, Apr 24

Monday, April 24, 2017

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11:30 AM

Author Talk
Annette Libeskind Berkovits

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Mon, Apr 24

Monday, April 24, 2017

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3 PM

Archaeology Mondays

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Thu, Apr 27

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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7:30 PM

Bang on a Can
Performance by Vicky Chow

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Fri, Apr 28

Friday, April 28, 2017

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2 PM

Gallery Talks
The Activist Shopper

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Sat, Apr 29

Saturday, April 29, 2017

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11 AM

Free Saturdays

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Who We Are

Welcome to the Jewish Museum, a museum in New York City at the intersection of art and Jewish culture for people of all backgrounds. Whether you visit our home in the elegant Warburg mansion on Museum Mile, or engage with us online, there is something for everyone. Through our exhibitions, programs, and collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media, visitors can journey through 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture from around the world.


As an art museum representing the diversity of Jewish culture and identity, the Jewish Museum believes in free expression and an open society. We embrace multiple viewpoints regardless of race, gender, national origin, or religion, and we oppose discrimination in all its forms.


Our exhibitions and public programs provide platforms for cross-cultural dialogue, fostering empathy, mutual understanding, and respect. We champion the powerful roles art and artists can play in our communities, both inside and outside the Museum’s walls.

Our Mission

The Jewish Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people through its unparalleled collections and distinguished exhibitions. Learn More

History

The Jewish Museum was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where it was housed for more than four decades. Now located in the landmark Warburg mansion, this elegant former residence has been the home of the Museum since 1947Learn More

From the Blog

Portraying Mother, Identifying Self Read More

https://medium.com/media/bdf904c25c1a1989cc7867156ed9cb10/href
“When the Jewish Museum asked me to make an artwork for the lobby … I realized the most Jewish thing I could possibly do would be to make a painting of my mother.”
— Alex Israel

On view through Sunday, April 23 in the lobby of the Jewish Museum’s Warburg Mansion, Self-Portrait (Mom) is a 2016 painting by Alex Israel that, as the title suggests, portrays the artist’s mother within the profile of the artist’s head. The painting is featured in the latest iteration of the ongoing Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings, a series of artist commissions for the Museum’s lobby. The Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings series, building upon a 1970 exhibition entitled Using Walls, has presented six exhibitions of new or adapted works of art since its inception in 2013.

Installation view of the exhibition Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Alex Israel, November 4, 2016 — April 23, 2017. The Jewish Museum, New York. Photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com

Alex Israel’s painting appears particularly at home in the Museum (formerly the residence of Jewish philanthropists Felix and Frieda Schiff Warburg). Perhaps this is because Israel’s approach and subject resonate with the Jewish Museum’s own collection, which contains hundreds of portraits from the 18th century through to today. Even more relevant to Self-Portrait (Mom), the Museum maintains surprisingly numerous portraits of mothers and, in particular, mothers of the artists who depicted them.

Then again, it may be unsurprising that visual representations of mothers across eras and mediums have made their way into the Museum’s figurative hands (pardon the pun). As Kelly Taxter, Associate Curator, underscores in the gallery guide that accompanies the exhibition:

Characters from television and film have propagated Jewish stereotypes, including the yiddishe mamaleh (Jewish mother). She is loving, yet smothering, and offers unsolicited food, observations, and advice to her children as she simultaneously riddles them with guilt. Examples include cringe-worthy characters like Sylvia, Fran Drescher’s materialistic, whiny mother on television’s The Nanny, and, on the flip side, the ultra-groovy Roz Focker from the film Meet the Fockers.

It is only fitting that an institution dedicated to investigating the intersection between art and Jewish culture would (incidentally or intentionally) explore aesthetic explorations of mother figures. Taxter goes on to assert that Israel’s depiction of his mother “stands in stark contrast” to trite versions of the Jewish mother that have been proliferated in the media — as do, in fact, other mother portraits that have been acquired by the Jewish Museum.

Arlene Gottfried, Mommie kissing Bubbie goodbye on East 14 Street, 1991, from Family, silver dye bleach print. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2001–31

Take, for instance, Arlene Gottfried’s Mommie kissing Bubbie goodbye on East 14 Street (1991). The photograph is part of her Family series that seeks to capture three stages of motherhood through Gottfried’s grandmother, mother, and sister. The photographer intends for the series to depict her “family’s journey: my mother’s illness and my grandmother’s passing and my sister’s choice to have a child later in life so that the family would continue.” The corporeal intimacy between her mother and grandmother produces a twinning effect — the parallel heights, statures, and clothing reflect one another. The resulting mirrored figures are not coincidental: Gottfried seems to seize on this frank display of affection to illustrate how one life stage begets the next, harnessing the nature of the photographic medium to freeze her family in time.

Larry Sultan, Untitled (Mom Posing in Front of Green Wall), 1983–89, chromogenic color print. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Ferkauf Fund

Like Gottfried, Larry Sultan also uses the medium of photography to immortalize his relatives. With Untitled (Mom Posing in Front of Green Wall) (1983–89), Sultan captures his mother standing within his childhood home. The artist articulates his drive to document his parents as having “more to do with love than with sociology . . . I realize that beyond the rolls of film and the few good pictures, the demands of my project and my confusion about its meaning, is the wish to take photography literally. To stop time. I want my parents to live forever.” Gazing boldly and impenetrably into the lens of her son’s camera, Sultan’s mother commands the viewer’s attention. Her erect and statuesque form appears immovable, as if she has become a permanent fixture of the room — a clearly deliberate visualization on the part of Sultan.

Alex Israel, Self-Portrait, 2013. Acrylic and bondo on fiberglass. Photograph by Hans-Georg Gull, courtesy of the artist.

Through these delicately nuanced and profoundly personal portraits of their own Jewish mothers, Gottfried and Sultan rebel against the one-note portrayals that regularly inundate our television and film screens. Perhaps Gottfried and Sultan are able to achieve such representations because these works serve, in Taxter’s words when describing the painting by Alex Israel, as “double portraits”: the photographs depict their subjects as much as the artists who created them. Israel, in painting his own Self-Portrait (Mom), seems uniquely aware of the potential for self-identification through mother’s image. By crafting within the silhouette of his own head an idealized vision of his mother — a “timelessly elegant” and “confident” woman who appears “appropriated from the all-American, aspirational advertisements of Ralph Lauren,” claims Taxter — Israel reckons with his own identity.

Don’t miss the final weekend of Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Alex Israel on view through Sunday, April 23. Explore the Jewish Museum’s online collection to find other portraits of mothers or relating to motherhood, including: Neil Sidney Kerner’s Mother and Child (1946, gelatin silver print); Laurie Simmons’ Mother/Nursery (1976, gelatin silver print); Neil Winokur’s Mom and Dad (1990, silver dye bleach print); and Boaz Tal’s Three Generations at My Parents’ House (1991, gelatin silver print).

Julie Reiter, Marketing and Production Coordinator, the Jewish Museum


Portraying Mother, Identifying Self was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sitting Down for Seder Read More

Seder Plate, Kerry Feldman, 1988. Glass. The Jewish Museum, New York. Judaica Acquisitions Fund. 1989–33

On the evening of Monday, April 10, Jewish families around the world will gather together to tell the story of Passover, celebrating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt and their subsequent Exodus. While Passover will last until dusk on Tuesday, April 18, the holiday is traditionally commemorated with a seder on the first and second evenings. The seder is an opportunity for family and friends to gather together to eat, drink and retell the story of the Israelites, incorporating foods, prayers, and even special dishes used only once a year.

Seder Plate, LQR, c. 1900. Ceramic: glazed. The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Doran. 1984–49

The centerpiece of the table is the seder plate, which holds six symbolic food items. While any plate can be considered a seder plate, most people use a special one, divided into six parts. The Jewish Museum’s Scenes from the Collection, opening this fall, will include many examples of seder plates, spanning more than four millennia of Jewish history. Some are richly ornamented, such as this blue-and-white porcelain plate, inspired by Chinese designs. Others are very simple, such as Kerry Feldman’s pictograph seder plate.

Matzah Plate, Moshe Zabari, Tray for the Fourth Matzah, 1986. Silver: hand-worked; Lucite. The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the children and grandchildren of Charlotte Yudell M.D. in honor of her seventy-fifth birthday. 1986–94a-b

The seder table also includes three pieces of matzah, an unleavened bread eaten during Passover to symbolize the haste with which the Israelites fled from Egypt before their bread had time to finish rising. The three pieces of matzah represent three groups of Israelites: the priests, the Levites (attendants in the temple), and the other Israelites themselves. In the 1970s, a fourth piece of matzah was added to honor those Jews persecuted for their religious beliefs. Moshe Zabari’s Tray for the Fourth Matzah, decorated with the Hebrew words spoken by Moses to Pharaoh — “let my people go” — is designed specifically for this fourth piece of matzah.

At the beginning of the Passover seder, the middle piece of matzah is broken in half. One piece, known as the afikomen, is hidden for the children to find after the dinner is finished. Everyone who finds a piece of the afikomen is rewarded with a small gift.

Neil Goldberg, Untitled (hinged matzahs), 1992. Matzahs and mixed media. The Jewish Museum, New York: Purchase: Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund. 1996–12

At the beginning of the Passover seder, the middle piece of matzah is broken in half and pieces are hidden for the children to find after the dinner is finished, known as the afikoman. Everyone who finds a piece of the afikomen is rewarded with a small gift.

Nicole Eisenman, Seder, 2010, oil on canvas, 39 1⁄16 × 48 in. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Lore Ross Bequest; Milton and Miriam Handler Endowment Fund; and Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2011–3. © Nicole Eisenman.

Passover is intended to honor and preserve the story of the Exodus, passing the traditions and narratives of the holiday from one generation to the next through the Four Questions, asked by the youngest person at the seder, and the reading of the Haggadah, which contains the rituals, prayers, songs and stories of Passover. For Haggadot, matzah covers, and other items to help celebrate this holiday, the Jewish Museum Shop’s collection of Passover products are currently on sale, including a replica of Nicole Eisenman’s terracotta seder plate, produced for the Museum’s 2015 Masterpieces & Curiosities exhibition.

The Jewish Museum will observe Passover with adjusted hours on April 10, 11, 12, 16, 17 and 18. Families can join us for our Freedom Art Jam Art & Dance Passover Dance Party on Sunday, April 9, as well as Passover Week puppet-making workshops inspired by Charlemagne Palestine’s Bear Mitzvah in Meshugahland on April 13, 14 and 16. To learn more about Passover, explore works in our online collection and Educator Resources on the Jewish holidays.

— Sarah Roth, Curatorial Intern, The Jewish Museum


Sitting Down for Seder was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Remembering Pop Artist James Rosenquist Read More

Installation view of James Rosenquist’s F-111, June 10-September 8, 1965. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by Ambur Hiken.

The Jewish Museum is saddened to hear of the passing of pioneering Pop artist James Rosenquist (1933–2017) who died on Friday, March 31 in New York City.

The original 1965 press release from James Rosenquist’s exhibition at the Jewish Museum

Rosenquist was known for his use of imagery from popular media and advertising to create billboard-sized paintings. In 1965, the Jewish Museum presented the artist’s 51 panel F-111, the largest Pop art painting in the world depicting the F-111B, the latest jet fighter-bomber of the time. The painting was previously shown at Leo Castelli Gallery, which represented most of the major Pop artists at the time, and then toured throughout Europe. The original 1965 press release for his exhibition at Jewish Museum reveals the significance of this large-scale painting in altering the artist’s own point of view:

Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter, and he feels that this experience has altered his perception, causing him to see things on the larger-than-life scale which results in such “illustrations” of our culture as F-111.
James Rosenquist, The Flame Still Dances on Leo’s Book, 1977. Screenprint on paper. Gift of Jean-Christophe Castelli and tribute from the artist in honor of Leo Castelli. 1999–83.7

Part of the Jewish Museum collection, Rosenquist’s The Flame Still Dances on Leo’s Book is a 1977 screenprint depicting an anthropomorphic flame dancing on a Book of Life with Leo Castelli’s name on it, as if Rosenquist was conjuring a wish of longevity for the gallerist who had been an unerring supporter for the artist. The work was part of a portfolio honoring the 90th birthday of Leo Castelli, gifted to the Jewish Museum by Jean-Christophe Castelli, the gallerist’s son.

At the Jewish Museum, the flame, and our memories, still dance on for James Rosenquist.


Remembering Pop Artist James Rosenquist was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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