Chaim Soutine, Amadeo Modigliani, and Marc Chagall are all famous Jewish artists. But what about the second commandment, "Thou shalt not make graven images"? Is Jewish art kosher? In this address to the Sinai Scholars Society, Professor Naftali Loewenthal shares various interpretations of this prohibition before turning to an examination of Jewish artists of the recent past.
Among those artists whose work is explored are Chenoch Hendel Liebermann, Wassily Kandinsky, Zalman Kleiman, Michoel Muchnik, Eleazar Kalman Tiefenbrun, Raphael Nouril, Baruch Nachson, Israel Isaac Besançon, Zvi Ribak, and others. Loewenthal examines the place of art within religion, touching upon choice of subject matter, the difference between craftsmanship and art, and how "raids on the abyss" enrich art and spiritual growth.
A glimpse inside:
"For the true chassid, all aspects of life must be brought together in a larger harmony." Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in a letter to Reb Hendel Liebermann.
"Judaism (and/or Chassidic teachings) adds a dimension to the appreciation of music, art, and literature, which is permitted, that moer than compensates for the avoidance of that which is forbidden." Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in a letter to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.