Inner Realities: Self-Taught Artists from the Jewish Museum Collection

September 2 - October 23, 2005

Drawn from the collection of the Jewish Museum, paintings by self-taught Israeli and American artists encompass Jewish holidays, scenes of daily life, and biblical themes running the gamut from the joyous to the tragic. Memory and vivid imagination act as catalysts in the creation of astonishing pictorial worlds.

Inner Realities: Self-Taught Artists from the Jewish Museum Collection focuses on Israeli and American painters whose intriguing works emanate from their personal history and identity as Jews. Unconcerned with or unaware of academic techniques, these artists invent unique systems of scale, perspective, and figuration to express their feelings and experiences. The themes comment on religious traditions as well as the social and political environment. Characterized by simple forms, strong design, and surprising juxtapositions, their idiosyncratic images speak with powerful directness.

Drawn from the collection of the Jewish Museum, the paintings encompass Jewish holidays, scenes of daily life, and biblical themes running the gamut from the joyous to the tragic. Meichel Pressman’s The Seder and Gabriel Cohen’s Exodus present two different perspectives on the Passover story, one depicting the annual commemoration of the biblical exodus from Egypt, the other offering a contemporary metaphor for exile. While Pressman nostalgically depicts a Polish-Jewish family seated together for the ritual meal, Cohen divides his post-Holocaust landscape into tiers that separate the subjugated from their armed rulers. For all these artists, memory and a vivid imagination act as catalysts in the creation of astonishing pictorial worlds.