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May 25: The Realism of Rosa Bonheur

  Realist painter Rosa Bonheur, one of the best-known women artists of the 19th century, was born in Bordeaux on this date in 1822, to a Jewish family who belonged to the socialist-Christian sect known as Saint-Simonianism. The sect encouraged the education of women, and Rosa took her place alongside her father and brothers as […]

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March 7: The Muralist of Los Angeles

Hugo Ballin, a filmmaker of the silent era and a Beaux-Artes-style muralist whose work graces such Los Angeles landmarks as the Griffith Observatory, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and Burbank City Hall, was born in New York on this date in 1879. He studied at the Art Students League of New York and had his first major […]

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November 4: Raphael Soyer’s Canvases

The leftwing painter Raphael Soyer, the best-known of three artist brothers (including his twin Moses and Isaac), died at 87 on this date in 1987. Soyer was admired for his realistic street scenes and his intimate paintings of people in face-to-face circumstances or states of introspection during the Great Depression. He was also known  for […]

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August 29: The Federal Art Project

The Federal Art Project, an arm of the Works Progress Administration established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in relief of the Great Depression, was launched on this date in 1935. During eight years of operation, it would include within its ranks such iconic artists as Adolph Gottlieb, William Gropper, Philip Guston (Goldstein), Morris Kantor, Lee […]

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August 21: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

World-renowned leftwing Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were married for the first time on this date in 1929 (they separated in 1934, divorced in 1938, and remarried in 1940). Rivera’s mother was a converso. Although he was not raised as a Jew, he knew that he was Jewish and was proud of it. […]

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An Interview with Tamar Zinn

Over at 365 Artists 365 Days, Jewish Currents editorial board member and painter Tamar Zinn is interviewed about her work, particularly her new series Blacks and Whites and Tangle. It’s tempting (but maybe too easy?) to see the former as her most recent experiments in color and the latter as her most recent in line, […]

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October 9: Art and “Buggery”

British artist Simeon Solomon, who lived as an “out” homosexual in the mid-to-late 19th century and found his successful career destroyed by his arrests for attempted “buggery” in a public lavatory, was born in Bishopsgate on this date in 1840. He was the youngest member of the first Orthodox family permitted to conduct business in […]

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August 28: A Superior Sculptor

Sculptor, furniture maker, and visual artist Roy Superior, who has been described as “an absurdist, a risk taker, an ever-curious observer of the human condition,” died at 78 in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, on this date in 2013. With an MFA from Yale, he taught wood sculpture and furniture design at the University of the Arts of […]

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December 12: Helen Frankenthaler

Abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler, who was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 2001, was born to a wealthy German-Jewish family in Manhattan on this date in 1928. Championed early in her career by Clement Greenberg, Frankenthaler developed a staining method that involved soaking canvases in color by pouring turpentine-thinned paint onto them. This […]

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