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6.6.05

Israeli Art as History

Other Reviews:

James Woodall, Creation of a nation (London Financial Times, May 13)

Peter von Becker, Maschinenpistolen im Kronleuchter (Tagesspiegel, May 18)

Peter von Becker, The New Hebrews (translation of article above by Meredith Dale, Sign and Sight, May 20)

Talya Halkin, Berlin museum exhibits 'New Hebrew' art (Jerusalem Post, May 19)

Israel's "Mona Lisa" on Display in Berlin (Deutsche Welle, English edition, May 20)

Damien McGuinness, Out of the Shtetl, into the Brave New World (Der Spiegel, English edition, May 20)

Dana Gilerman, Of pogroms and paintings (Haaretz, June 5)
You should really read an article ('The New Hebrews': A confrontation with history, June 7) by Judy Dempsey for the International Herald Tribune. It's a review of what sounds like a very interesting exhibit—part art, part history, part politics—called Die neuen Hebräer—100 Jahre Kunst in Israel (The New Hebrews: A Century of Art in Israel), at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, until September 5. Its official purpose is "to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany" through the history of Israeli art in the 20th century:
There is none of the kitsch that you often find in the art galleries in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and that panders to the diaspora's and tourists' penchant for sentimentalism. Instead, for the first time, here is a collection of art that traces the history of the state of Israel, beginning with the pogroms in Russia and the Zionist movement in Germany and Eastern Europe. In rooms that elicit surprise, sadness, fun and mockery, the exhibition gets to the heart of a century largely characterized by idealism, conflict and persistence. In trying to show through art how Israelis see themselves and their society, the exhibition confronts one of the most tantalizing issues for contemporary Israelis. Doreet LeVitte Harten, the curator of the exhibition, calls it postmodernism. For Israelis, that means post-Zionism. The tensions between Zionism and post-Zionism run through this exhibition.
Highlights mentioned include Shmuel Hirszenberg's mural The Wandering Jew (1899), examples of Russian socialist art, photographs of the early kibbutzim, paintings by Reuven Rubin, Yehudit Sasportas, and Pinchas Litvinovsky, photographs by Adi Ness, and—what an incredible thing—a part of the ancient Temple Scroll, one of the Qumran scrolls found by Bedouins near the Dead Sea beginning in 1947. The exhibit is a joint venture between the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Berliner Festspiele. The exhibit's Web site has some text but only one image. The online press kit (.PDF) has a lot more text and zero images. Have we learned nothing?

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