In our digital world, we strive to provide a refined and innovative virtual experience for our members and visitors. I hope you will enjoy an increasingly editorial and customized feeling in these Newsletters, as we work to provide the same world-class quality that we are known for in our award-winning Member print publications.
In August and September, two transformative exhibitions will be on view simultaneously, and I encourage you to take advantage of your exclusive member benefits during this unique time.
Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art opens on August 20 with an August 19 Member Preview. This exhibition traces the fascinating timelines of treasured pieces of Judaica along with works by renowned artists as they passed through various points before, during, and after World War II. I’m sure you will agree with me that the stories revealed about works by Matisse, Cezanne, Chagall, Courbet, and others, are unforgettable.
Our critically-acclaimed Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter, guest-curated by Philip Larratt-Smith, closes on September 12 and provides a first-time look at the artist’s complicated relationship to Freudian analysis. We’ve included works and documents that have either never been seen, or have not been seen in New York in more than 30 years.
With your support, we are proud to present powerful and unique exhibitions—while offering our visitors the chance to go deeper, stay engaged, and continue to enjoy the museum experience both on-site, and at home.
Thank you for being with us this season, and I hope to see you soon in the galleries or at an upcoming virtual program.
Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director
This exhibition traces the fascinating timelines of individual objects as they passed through hands and sites before, during, and after World War II, bringing forward their myriad stories.
Louise Bourgeois’s complex relationship with Freudian psychoanalysis is explored through her writings and works in this revelatory exhibition.
New works are always on view in this immersive and dynamic installation, which showcases nearly 600 objects from antiquities to contemporary art, and reflects the Museum’s unique identity. Recently launched, Television and Beyond: Mazel Tov! Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on Television brings together excerpts from television and streaming programs from 1966 to 2017, including shows such as The Wonder Years, Bob’s Burgers, BoJack Horseman, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 30 Rock, Younger, and Black-ish, among others.
These charming turn-of-the-century postcards demonstrate how Jews in the US sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to loved ones—a centuries-old tradition that continues today. In the early 1900s, technological developments both separated Jewish communities and brought them together: steamships propelled Jews across the Atlantic while mass-produced postcards provided new connections. The commercial story of the postcards also crisscrosses continents, as they were sold by New York-based companies but printed in Germany. Depicting scenes such as American Jews welcoming arrivals from Russia, a young couple in an airplane, and intimate moments of worship in the home, the cards embody a meeting of tradition and modernity, Old World and New, and a sense of optimism for the new year.
Christian Boltanski—creator of installations, sculptures, films, paintings, and other artworks—passed away on July 14, 2021. Born in Paris in 1944, just twelve days after the city’s liberation from the Nazis, Boltanski’s work emerged from the trauma of the Holocaust without ever referring to it directly. Deeply imbued with a sense of loss, Boltanski's art distilled personal memories to the point of becoming at once universal and unrecognizable, unmoored from the narratives that lend structure and meaning to history.
Boltanski frequently made use of family snapshots, school portraits, and other humble found objects with intimate associations. Dispersion, which was included in the Jewish Museum’s 2016 exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours),—an updated version of a 1995 exhibition that Boltanski conceived with the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist—consisted of a towering heap of used clothing. Visitors were invited to pick through the pile and to take anything they wished, dismantling the artwork over time while granting new life to the old clothes.
In an interview conducted on June 14, 2021 by Leon Levy Associate Curator Shira Backer, Boltanski reflects on his “Monuments” series, including Monument (Odessa) in the Jewish Museum’s collection. Following is an excerpt from that interview.
Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art focuses on the seizure and movement of works as they traveled through storage depots, distribution centers, and private collections before, during, and after World War II. The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, and Judaica that survived this traumatic period of violence and upheaval against tremendous odds. By tracing the fascinating timelines of individual objects as they passed through networks of loss and recovery, their complex stories are brought forward, often in dialogue with documents and photographs that connect them to history.
Two works featured in the exhibition are Henri Matisse’s Daisies (1939) and Girl in Yellow and Blue with Guitar (1939). Both paintings were owned by the French-Jewish collector and gallerist Paul Rosenberg, who represented many of the most important artists of the early twentieth century, including Picasso, Leger, and Braque, as well as Matisse.
In June 1940, when the Nazis invaded France, Rosenberg was one of the collectors they singled out for persecution. Aware that he would be in danger, Rosenberg fled to America the previous year, sending much of his inventory to New York. However, he was still forced to store many works in a bank vault near Bordeaux. When the Nazis broke into Rosenberg’s vault, they seized its contents, including the two Matisse works. The paintings were sent to the German Embassy in Paris, then to the Musée du Louvre, and finally to the Jeu de Paume gallery, an enormous nineteenth-century building that the Nazis had converted into the largest storage depot of looted art in France.
In addition to looting Rosenberg’s vault, the Nazis also occupied his Paris gallery at 21 rue la Boétie, transforming it into the headquarters of the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question, and using the space to organize the anti-Semitic exhibition Le Juif en France (The Jew in France).
On November 27, 1942, Girl in Yellow and Blue with Guitar was involved in a four-painting exchange with the Nazi art dealer Gustav Rochlitz, who acquired it on behalf of Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Goering. The work remained in Goering’s collection until the end of the war, when it was recovered by Allied soldiers and returned to Rosenberg.
Daisies, which remained at the Jeu de Paume for the rest of the war, was also returned to Rosenberg, who sold both works separately. The paintings, which had travelled together from 1939-41 before being separated in 1942, were reunited decades later when they both entered the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago: Daisies in 1983; and Girl in Yellow and Blue with Guitar in 2007.
In the audio guide that accompanies the exhibition, Marianne Rosenberg describes her grandfather’s remarkable story, as well as that of her father, Alexandre, who served as a soldier in the Free French forces, and who liberated a train filled with looted art in August 1944.
The Hare with Amber Eyes, opening this fall at the Jewish Museum, tells the tumultuous story of the Ephrussi family. Based on the critically acclaimed family memoir written by family descendant Edmund de Waal, the tale chronicles the growth of their fortune and rise to prominence in the nineteenth century—from Odessa to Vienna and Paris. The story’s name is drawn from a carved hare with amber eyes, one of hundreds of Japanese figurines prized by Charles Ephrussi as part of his impressive art collection, which also included works created by luminaries from within his circle of friends—Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Auguste Renoir.
To recreate the story of the Ephrussi family, the Jewish Museum partnered with de Waal, as well as renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who worked with the Museum on the design of the 2016 exhibition Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design.
Elizabeth Diller, Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, described her team’s approach in designing this unique exhibition, which layers the Jewish Museum’s building, originally built as a home for the Warburg family, with themes of the Ephrussi’s various residences.
“We created an interpretive approach using family and loaned artifacts that trace the turbulent history of the family’s movements through place and time,” says Diller.
“The architecturally distinguished homes they inhabited over the course of generations will be evoked within the domestic setting of the Jewish Museum and brought to life through excerpts from the author’s memoir. The exhibition will bring together pieces from the Ephrussi’s collections to examine the ways in which objects can function as storytellers, symbols of resilience, and monuments of a family legacy.”
Despite their social prominence, with the rise of antisemitism in Europe, the Ephrussi family left Vienna to find refuge in England, the United States, and Mexico. Their assets, library, and collections were looted by the Nazis. One exception was the collection of netsuke, which was hidden in Vienna by a family servant. Ultimately, it was left to de Waal—and remains as the link between an illustrious past and the present.
Broadening and enriching the collection with new acquisitions of art—including paintings, sculpture, photography, and Judaica—is at the core of the Jewish Museum’s mission. The Museum was founded with a gift of ceremonial art from Mayer Sulzberger to the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1904. The Jewish Museum’s collection now spans 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture through nearly 30,000 objects from around the world, from ancient artifacts to cutting-edge contemporary art.
Ansel Krut is a London-based painter best known for his expressive compositions and grotesque forms, which draw from both from art history and his upbringing in apartheid-era South Africa. Born to a Jewish family who fled Eastern Europe prior to World War II and settled in a tight-knit diasporic community in Cape Town, Krut creates visceral works that suggest the vivid colors and dramatic landscapes of his hometown while gesturing at the complex status of his position as a white settler—which he calls his “confused cultural identity”—in a society marked by apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism. His gestural renderings of suspended body parts, still lifes, and architectural scenes are imbued with a type of psychedelic absurdity, their joy nonetheless qualified by undertones of existential melancholy. His largescale 2017 canvas Red Hand, Violet Hand is charged with a type of raw immediacy, in which abstraction and figuration function as both formal experiment and coded social commentary.
Born in Brooklyn to an immigrant Jewish family, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020) dedicated her life to the pursuit of women’s rights and gender equality. In 1993 she became the second-ever female Justice appointed to the Supreme Court, where, in addition to writing many notable majority opinions, she also became famous for her passionately argued dissents that reflected paradigmatic liberal views of the law. After Justice Ginsburg passed away last September, TIME magazine commissioned the feminist Jewish artist Elinor Carucci to photograph her celebrated collection of collars. Ginsburg had worn these collars not just to emphasize the overdue feminine energy she brought to the court, but also to encode meaning into her dress—a sartorial strategy practiced by powerful women throughout history. The South African beaded collar seen here was Ginsburg’s favorite. The necklace is so iconic that its geometric pattern—which gleamed white against her black judicial robe—is now synonymous with the late Justice herself. Carucci’s intimate photographs of the collars serve as a reminder of Justice Ginsburg’s determined spirit, as well as an undeniable record of her absence.
The Jewish Museum recently received a significant gift of twenty-nine works from the Saul Steinberg Foundation spanning the artist’s long and prolific career. Born in 1914 in Romania to second and third generation Russian Jewish parents, Steinberg was raised in what he called “the Turkish delight manner,” in a world where Ottoman and western styles intermingled, and tradition and modernity intersected. At the same time, the artist grew up in a Romania dominated by antisemitic nationalism, an experience that would forever mark his life and art. Steinberg fled Nazi Europe and eventually immigrated to the United States, via the Dominican Republic, by obtaining a sponsorship letter from The New Yorker in 1942. Over the next six decades, he created brilliant drawings, filled with humor, and endowed with a fantastical and absurdist streak, for the magazine. Steinberg relished his engagement with postwar America. His impressions are those of an immigrant, looking at the country from the outside, and commenting often with irony and always with great wit. “Being an immigrant made one into a child,” Steinberg once said, “a child who talked funny and noticed things natives never did.” From the time of his arrival in New York, he walked the streets of his adopted city with a freshness of vision that never grew jaded, as seen in his whimsical view of Lexington Avenue from 1983.
This sculptural installation, recently on view in We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, reproduces the options that appear when a smartphone user holds down the keyboard icon representing a raised fist. Before 2015, yellow was the only color for emojis representing people; the addition of naturalistic skin tones has occasioned both affirmation and discomfort, suggesting both the possibilities and the limits of technologically mediated self-representation. The fist emoji menu, in particular, hints at how such representations can be fraught: it gives the notion that white supremacy and Black Power can be equated an accidental visual form. The fists in Power—cartoonishly rendered in smooth, saturated colors—also suggest that the forms of solidarity frequently on display in social media may be specious or shallow. By realizing these tiny pictograms as dimensional cutouts that occupy a wall, Horowitz asks us to contemplate their various meanings.
This fall, don’t miss an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art, with Sam Sackeroff, Leon Levy Assistant Curator.
Curator's Choice: Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art
Tuesday, October 12
Lecture will be held via Zoom
Email Invitation Coming Soon
In store and online
October 10 - 17
Save 20% on a distinctive selection of Jewish ceremonial objects from traditional to contemporary, exhibition-related merchandise, jewelry, books, and toys. Take advantage of this seasonal perk on-site at the Museum’s Cooper shop and online at Shop.TheJewishMuseum.org.
Jewish Museum members are always among the first to experience new exhibitions—before they open to the public. Keep an eye out for special invitations by email to private previews, for a memorable first look at the Museum’s groundbreaking shows.
Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art
Thursday, August 19, 2021
11 am – 6 pm
The Hare with Amber Eyes
Timed tickets available this fall
Jonas Mekas: The Camera Was Always Running
Timed tickets available this winter
Housed in the landmark Warburg Mansion on New York City’s Museum Mile, our elegant, versatile space provides a unique and memorable setting for your special event, including family celebrations, lifecycle events, services and ceremonies, concerts, non-profit fundraisers, and corporate functions. Museum space rentals are available to Patrons and Corporate Members at the $5,000 Fellow membership level and above. For more information, please contact the Rental Manager at 212.423.3216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jewish Museum would like to express its gratitude to the individual, foundation, and corporate donors who gave to the Museum during the previous fiscal year. During this critical time, our contributors’ commitment to sustain the Jewish Museum as a beacon of art and Jewish culture for generations to come is doubly appreciated. Their extraordinary generosity allows us to continue to produce groundbreaking exhibitions and unparalleled educational programs representing the diversity of Jewish culture and identity. On behalf of all of us at the Museum, thank you.
Last season, the Jewish Museum presented a virtual lecture series on YouTube in conjunction with the exhibition Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter. Speakers included the historian and cultural critic Elisabeth Bronfen, art historian Donald Kuspit, and writer Gary Indiana, who examined the intersection of Bourgeois’s art and psychoanalysis from a variety of different lenses.
Specific topics explored by the speakers included an aesthetic appropriation of the language of hysteria, and the significance of writing and art making as a therapeutic practice. Perhaps more than any other artist of the twentieth century, Louise Bourgeois produced a body of work that consistently and profoundly engaged with psychoanalytic theory and practice as established by Sigmund Freud.
As the exhibition draws to a close, register for a final lecture by New York based psychoanalyst Jameison Webster who will traverse an assortment of Bourgeois’s journal entries, dreams, and artistic works, to elaborate the texture of her engagement with psychoanalysis.
Past video premieres can be viewed at any time on the Jewish Museum's YouTube channel.
Psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster unpacks the exhibition Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter like a cabinet of curiosities whose themes move from the body, anxiety, and depression, to feminine sexuality, murderous wishes, and the primal scene. Along the way, he will introduce some illustrious characters: not just Freud, but the French Princess Marie Bonaparte, and her rival, Jacques Lacan.
With a long-standing history of delighting family audiences at the Jewish Museum, Dan Zanes continues to be one of the Museum's beloved children's performers. In fall 2021, the singer, along with his wife and musical partner, Claudia, will regale viewers through a Virtual Family Concert on the Museum's YouTube channel. The duo took some time out of their busy schedules to fill the Museum in on their experience during the pandemic year, what it's like to collaborate on music as husband and wife, and their upcoming record release. Catch the pair during their performance this fall on the Jewish Museum's YouTube channel.
Grammy Award-winner Dan Zanes and jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes will perform a concert of what they like to call “electric folk for all-ages.”
Rachel Levine, Assistant Director, Family Programs: It is a pleasure thinking back to the history of working together! The first concert for families that you performed on the Jewish Museum stage was in February 2003 with the full band of Dan Zanes & Friends! What was the spark or driving force in making music for families at that time?
Dan Zanes: I remember that show! The Jewish Museum was one of the first, if not the first, places in New York to regularly present family music. The energy in the room was tremendous! I was a new parent back then and I wanted music that would be a shared experience for my daughter and me. I wasted my youth playing rock and roll and making music for the all-ages crowd had a similar feeling. There was no road map. We could be as creative as we wanted to be and, best of all, at every show there was someone who’d never seen live music before! So we had the opportunity to share the joy of music making with people who were likely to go out and make their own music.
Rachel: I must say experiencing the magic and synergy of you two performing together has brought the repertoire to new levels. Share a little bit about your creative process for working together and writing music.
Claudia Zanes: We’ve been singing together since the day we met almost five years ago. We sang gospel, Haitian folk music, a little country. I guess that’s who we are at our core. We were always aware that this was something new for both of us. Even though Dan’s catalog of songs is pretty huge we’ve been writing new ones all along. The way it’s evolved is exciting. It feels like the best way to describe it is “electric folk music for all-ages.” We’ve been more conscious lately that families want to have conversations that aren’t always natural or traditional for them and we’re realizing that part of our job is to sing about life as we see it so that other people might have a way in to certain subjects. The first single from our new record is called “Reparations is a Must (4th of July Love Song)” so that gives you some idea. But there has to be joy in all of this. I think we’re good at sharing the joy and hope that we always feel.
Rachel: Last fall, when we were developing the virtual concert you performed, we spoke a lot about social justice and other important issues echoing in everyone’s minds. Your powerful song selection and version of “Shalom Rav” gave me chills!
Both: Thank you, we love that one!
Can you tell us a bit about how current events have impacted your music and/or performance style? How has it changed the way you share your music with families in terms of your focus or musical direction?
Dan: When I met Claudia I knew almost immediately that she was the person I’d been looking for my entire life. When we sang together I could hear something that I’d only dreamed about, a sound I didn’t think I would experience in this lifetime. When we wrote the songs for this record we were responding to the events of the world, trying to be like musical newspapers. It felt like we needed to sing about all that was on our hearts but we were also hearing from so many families who were saying “yes, more like this!” So we sing about the ferris wheels and summer nights, but we also sing about John Lewis’s nonviolence and dismantling systems of oppression. In other words freedom. We sing about freedom of the spirit and freedom in the world … with the occasional tickling song thrown in for good measure!
Rachel: Certainly the pandemic greatly impacted your approach and the “Social Isolation Song Series” comes to mind, how did that series develop?
Claudia: When the pandemic was declared in March of 2020 we decided we’d make a new video of a song every day. We wanted to give people some fresh music and stay connected to our community. And we thought it would probably go for a few months. 200 consecutive days later we played our last Social Isolation Song. The collection now lives in the Library of Congress Digital Archives. It gave us life and purpose during some challenging times and we felt anything but isolated. Many people responded every day and the conversation grew and grew. When we couldn’t find the song that said what we wanted to say we wrote one. By the end we had dozens of new songs ... and dozens of new friends.
Rachel: What are you most looking forward to in the months ahead?
Dan: Our record!
Claudia: Yes, This is so exciting, our first record as Dan & Claudia Zanes. It’s called Let Love be Your Guide and it comes out on Smithsonian Folkways on September 10. The first single, "Reparations is a Must” came out recently and there will be two more before the release. So we’re planning videos and booking shows and choosing outfits and figuring out this sound we like to call “Electric Folk for All-Ages.” And how could I forget, we’ll be spending time playing with our young sheepadoodle named Rezi.
Dan: And we’re really looking forward to joining you all again. The Jewish Museum has a very special place in our hearts and we’re grateful for you, Rachel, and for all of the families that come out to sing and dance with gusto.
The Jewish Museum’s Young Patrons are a vibrant community of next-generation professionals ages 21 to 40, all of whom are connected by a shared passion for art and Jewish culture. Founded in 2015, the program has grown to become a vital circle of members who build lasting connections in the Museum family and enjoy exclusive access to experiencing the Museum's trailblazing exhibitions and cutting-edge programs.
With levels beginning at $180, Young Patrons are introduced to the Jewish Museum’s critical work through curator-led tours, private Shabbat dinners, special events with Museum leadership, and more. The Young Patrons also host the Museum’s most glamorous annual celebration of next-generation support, the Purim Ball After Party.
To kick off the fall season, Young Patrons are invited to enjoy a curator-led tour of our upcoming exhibition, Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art. To attend this event, please join now, or secure a future Young Patron's invitation by making a gift of membership to a friend or family member.
For more information about the Jewish Museum’s Young Patrons, or to join now, contact Shauna Bahssin, Development Coordinator, Major Gifts, at 212.423.3268 or email@example.com.
Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art
August 26, 2021
The Jewish Museum is housed in the historic Warburg Mansion, designed in the French Gothic chateau style in 1908. The building served as the private home of Felix and Frieda Schiff Warburg for many years.
The Warburgs were ardent philanthropists and proponents of the arts. In 1944, Frieda Warburg made an iconic and generous commitment to the arts when she donated the Mansion to become a museum of art and Jewish culture.
To honor the Warburg family tradition of giving, the Jewish Museum has created the Warburg Society—a special group of vital supporters who provide for the institution’s future by incorporating it into their legacy through a planned gift or bequest.
Warburg Society members have a profound impact—helping to ensure continuity for the Jewish Museum for generations to come, while providing support for its compelling exhibitions and unparalleled educational programs. For more information about the Warburg Society, or to plan a personal consultation, contact Ronya Gordon, Senior Development Officer, at 212.423.3324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Rosh Hashanah beginning on the eve of September 6, and Yom Kippur taking place on September 16, now is the ideal time to create this year's holiday setting. With artist-designed objects like a Sol LeWitt cake plate, perfect for apples and honey or a break-the-fast spread; unique Judaica like Yemenite-crafted shofars, and decorative objects for the home (or gifts for a holiday host), the Jewish Museum Shop has all you'll need to usher in a sweet New Year.
Every purchase supports the Jewish Museum.
Sol LeWitt Black Curvy Lines Cake Plate
One-of-a-Kind Hand-Painted Pomegranates by SIND Studio