Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Publication: Alex Gorlin on Kabbalah in Art and Architecture

 Berlin, Germany. Jewish Museum. Daniel Libeskind, architect.  A building open for seemingly limitless interpretations.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003

New Publication: Alex Gorlin on Kabbalah in Art and Architecture

Architect Alex Gorlin, known for his synagogue at the North Shore Hebrew Academy in King's Point Jewish Center synagogue in King's Point, Long Island and his recent addition to the Louis Kahn-designed Temple Beth El in Chappaqua, New York, has compiled a book about finding Kabbalah in art (mostly modern) and architecture.  The book isn't so much about artists'  and architects' attempts to insert Kabbalah in their work (though there examples of this), but rather of how to use Kabbalah as a lens for seeing and understanding art and architectural colors, forms and space. 

Kabbalah in Art and Architecture

By Alexander Gorlin. Pointed Leaf Press, 2013, 192 pages, $60. 

Gavriel D. Rosensaft, author of the Building After Auschwitz: Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011) has previously written a review in the Forward.  


I recommend looking at Gorlin's and Rosensaft's books together; the authors view some of the same buildings with different frames of reference.  Rosensaft has the deeper back story, with much more history and analysis, but Gorlin offers useful pithy descriptions in his extended captions, but always in the context of Kabbalah.  Their interpretations or not contradictory; they are complementary.  

But be warned - though the both the Holocaust and Kabbalah are often referenced in modern architectural works, sometimes an architectural shape is just a shape, an architectural void just a void.

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