Veiled Meanings: An Artist’s Response Read More
The Jewish Museum invited artist Michael Gac Levin to respond to our current exhibition through a series of drawings.
The Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, showcases more than 100 articles of clothing that attest to the diversity of Jewish communities around the world, from eighteenth to twentieth centuries.
To further explore how these clothes are seen, worn, and interpreted today, the Jewish Museum invited Brooklyn-based artist Michael Gac Levin to respond to the exhibition through a series of drawings.
Born in Los Angeles in 1984, Michael Gac Levin became fascinated with the Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn while living in Williamsburg as an art student. His interest soon narrowed to the Hasidic dress code, particularly that of Hasidic men. In 2013 he published Jews of Today, a book that explores and attempts to explain Hasidic menswear through drawing. His fantastical illustrations had us wondering what Levin might make of, just for example, the Rebbe’s Sabbath Coat, with its sumptuous pattern of peacock feathers, currently on view (pictured below).
Gac Levin’s practice, largely rooted in drawing, has touched on multiple subjects, many of them personal: his assimilated Jewish-American upbringing, his memories of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and the fraught relationship between the collective unconscious and the Netflix algorithm. For Gac Levin, drawing is a way to learn through intuition and imagination. In his drawings, he seeks to imbue images and objects that we might take for granted with a sense of possibility, and to disclose the personal, subjective nature of knowing.
The series below offers an interpretation of the clothing in Veiled Meanings that wavers between historical and poetic, outward- and inward-looking.
We hope you enjoy these drawings as much as we do.
Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is on view at the Jewish Museum through March 18.