Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exhibitions: Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally"

Exhibitions: Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally"

Tom Freudenheim has written about Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally" for the Wall Street Journal. The painting which was at the center of one the most publicized art restitution cases goes on view for three weeks at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage this week.

What Is Lost When Works are Trophies

By Tom L. Freudenheim
Wall Street Journal (July 27, 2010)

It's interesting to contemplate how works of art, which museums generally want us to appreciate for their aesthetic values, can turn into trophies: emblems of issues or events that have nothing to do with their status as art.

Take Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally" (1912), which goes on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan for three weeks starting Thursday, following an out-of-court settlement of the dispute over its ownership. In 1998 it had been seized by then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau from a Schiele exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, to which it had been lent by Vienna's Leopold Museum. Mr. Morgenthau was acting on behalf of the estate of Lea Bondi Jaray. The heirs of the original owner held that the painting had been stolen from her by the Nazis and therefore did not belong to the Leopold Museum. "Portrait of Wally" may not be Schiele's most important but the legal case has certainly turned it into his most famous one.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Greece: Jewish Museum in Athens Vandalized

Greece: Jewish Museum in Athens Attacked by Vandals

The Jewish Museum in Athens was vandalized this week. On July 22nd, red swastikas were painted on the building's exterior walls. Despite frequent acts of vandalism against Jewish targets throughout Greece, including those in Ioannina, Hania, and elsewhere previously reported on this blog, this is the first time the museum has been the target of and anti-Semitic attack. According to community representative security cameras recorded the eight perpetrators during the museum attack.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Sukkah for New York

Manuscript Illustration of a Sukkah (Italy, 1374). British Libriary MS Or 5024 fol 70v from Metzger, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, fig. 369.

Sukkah meal. Amsterdam, 1722 by Bernard Picart

Design for Sukkah by Stanley Tigerman and Susan O'Brien , Chicago Booth Festival (Chicago: Spertus Museum, 1994), pg 32

A Sukkah Bound for New York

An ambitious compeititon is organized for Sukkahs to be built in Union Square in New York City. I've written about the sukkah and the competition in The Forward:
New Yorkers have gotten used to the celebration of Jewish holidays in public places. The 32-foot-tall Hanukkah menorah lit regularly at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza isn’t as tall as the spires of nearby churches (or hotels), but it is still a pretty assertive statement of Jewish presence and pride. Once the city opened the door to such displays of religious observance in a public space, we knew it wouldn’t be long before other celebrations followed. And in fact, it is the holiday of Sukkot that will be celebrated in a public space as “Sukkah City: New York City” — the brainchild of Joshua Foer — launches a design competition for innovative sukkahs (literally: booths), for which registration closes on July 1.

Traditionally, rabbis have discouraged building in public places in order to lessen the risk of unwanted intrusion or destruction. But Foer is using the competition process and public display to combine the explicit missions of the organizers — Union Square Partnership and Reboot — to improve “the district’s continued growth and success” while making Jewish “culture, rituals, and traditions we’ve inherited… vital and resonant in our own lives.”
You can read more at the competition website here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lebanon: Beirut Synagogue to Open Next Year After Restoration

Beirut Synagogue to Reopen Next Year After Restoration

(ISJM) Bloomberg Businessweek has reported on the ongoing restoration of the Maghen Abraham Synagogue in Wadi Abou Jmil, Beirut's historic Jewish quarter. The synagogue, built in 1926, has been undergoing an extensive restoration for many years, funded mostly by Lebanese Jews living abroad. Isaac Arazi, head of the very small resident Lebanese Jewish community told author Massoud A. Derhally that the restoration, which may top $US 1 million, will be completed this fall. and will reopen for religious services in 2011.

Click here to read the entire story here.

The article also reports that "The community has also begun to repair the Jewish cemetery in Beirut, where about 4,500 Jews are buried, at a cost of about $200,000, and there are also plans to restore defunct synagogues elsewhere in the country, including one in Bhamdoun, a town 23 kilometers (14 miles) from the capital."