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Bopping through the Biennale, part 2

by Lawrence Bush To read part 1, click here. I’VE NEVER THOUGHT I could be exhausted by art to the point of barely having the strength to write about it, but my experience yesterday in Venice’s Giardini, the public park where nations of the world have permanent pavilions that house art during the Biennale, has done just […]

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Kurtzman Lives!

MAD Magazine’s Maestro of Cultural Insurgency by Paul Buhle From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created MAD and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly. Fantagraphics, 2015, 644 pages. PERHAPS ONLY TRUE DEVOTEES of MAD magazine are likely to accept Bill Schelly’s claim that […]

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The Urge for Fame: Does It Fade?

by Dusty Sklar “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done     and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;     nothing was gained under the sun.” —Ecclesiastes MY GOOD FRIEND, Ruth Lilian, still elegant, witty and beautiful at 86, cannot give up her desire to be famous. She […]

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July 24: Alex Katz

Alex Katz, who destroyed some thousand of his own works of art before finding his style in the 1950s — a figurative, cartoonish style that has been called a precursor to Pop Art — was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1927. His flat, mostly large-scale paintings are predominantly portraits and landscapes; his 1968 […]

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July 14: Gustav Klimt’s Jewish Models

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who led the “Secession” movement of painters and architects from Vienna’s conservative art establishment in 1897, was born on the outskirts of Vienna on this date in 1862. Klimt was Catholic, but he had many Jewish patrons and backers and used several Jewish women as models — including Adele Bloch Bauer, […]

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Rediscovering Ezra Jack Keats

by Helen Engelhardt From the Autumn, 2011 issue of Jewish Currents EZRA JACK KEATS IS KNOWN to many of us as the author of the modern classic children’s book, The Snowy Day, in which a young boy named Peter wakes to find his urban neighborhood transformed by a snowfall in the night. He puts on […]

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May 12: Saul Steinberg

Romanian-born cartoonist and graphic artist Saul Steinberg died at 84 on this date in 1999. A refugee from fascism in Italy, he worked for U.S. military intelligence during World War II while establishing a lifelong relationship with the New Yorker magazine, which had sponsored his entry into the U.S. after publishing one of his cartoons […]

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The Genius and the Gentiles: Chagall’s American Odyssey

by Gary Ferdman It may have been surprising to many to learn that Pope Francis’s two favorite artists are Caravaggio and Marc Chagall, and that the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion-member Catholic church, with its long and inglorious history of anti-Semitism, considers Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” (at right, copyright 2014 Artist Rights Society [ARS], New […]

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March 11: Ezra Jack Keats

Ezra Jack Keats (Jacob Ezra Katz), who transformed children’s literature with his colorful collage-and-ink style and his introduction of African-American children as central characters, was born in poverty in Brooklyn on this date in 1916. His artistic talent was well-recognized by the time he was in high school, but poverty beset him at several junctures […]

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The Jewish Connections of Käthe Kollwitz

by Helen Engelhardt From the Autumn, 2013 issue of Jewish Currents THIS WOMAN has a strong face, a square jaw, a mouth that does not smile, a wide wrist. There is no seductiveness or sensuality in her self-portrait. She is Käthe Kollwitz, a German graphic artist and sculptor (1867-1945) whose work focused almost exclusively on […]

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