Encyclopedia of Jewish American Artists

by Samantha Baskind


Approximately 85 Jewish American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, some critically neglected, have significantly influenced, and have been influenced by both their Jewish and American heritages.

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November 2006


Pages 352
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Race and Ethnicity/General
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Encyclopedia of Jewish American Artists presents over 80 19th- and 20-century Jewish American artists, ranging from the critically neglected Theresa Bernstein, Ruth Gikow, and Jennings Tofel, to the well-known Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, and Larry Rivers. The subject matter of some of these artists may surprise readers. Adolph Gottlieb designed and supervised the fabrication of a 35-foot wide, four-story high stained glass facade for a synagogue; Louise Nevelson sculpted a Holocaust memorial; and Philip Pearlstein painted a version of Moses with the Tablets of the Law early in his career. Covering painters, sculptors, printmakers, and photographers, as well as artists who engage in newer forms of visual expression such as video, conceptual, and performance art, the book is in part intended to stimulate further scholarship on these artists. When appropriate, entries reveal the influence of the Jewish American encounter on the artists' work along with other factors such as gender and the immigrant experience. In many cases, the artists' own words are employed to flesh out perspectives on their art as well as on their Jewish identity. To that end, the volume contains excerpts from recent interviews conducted by the author with some of the artists, including Judy Chicago, Audrey Flack, Jack Levine, and Sol LeWitt. Illustrations accompanying each artist's entry, some in color, aid this invaluable look at Jewish American art.



"This ambitious reference text provides short overviews of the careers of 80-plus 19th- and 20th-century Jewish American artists-e.g., painters, photographers, graphic artists, sculptors, and video-media artists. Baskind's selections vary from well-known artists, e.g., Richard Avedon and Mark Rothko, to those less well known, e.g., Minna Citron and Barbara Kruger. Each of the A-to-Z entries is approximately 1500 words long....Defining Jewish identity or a Jewish aesthetic is one of the goals of this reference book, which poses such questions as, What comprises a Jewish American aesthetic? and, Can an artist be categorized as Jewish simply because of birth?....[B]askind offers a reasoned response to these large questions. Recommended for art library collections and Judaica library collections."Library Journal

"[A] welcome addition to art history collections for the ethnic representation it offers and the questions it raises."American Reference Books Annual

"This biographical dictionary servies a very useful purpose by placing Jewish American artists in several contexts; their Jewish religious and cultural inheritance (acknowleged or otherwise); their association with the United States, whether as immigrants, ot native-born; and the extent to which Judaism is reflected--overtly, convertly, or even unconsciously--in their work."College & Research Libraries

"Baskind, professor of art history at Cleveland State University, provides information on 85 artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She includes painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and video, conceptual, and performance artists, offering a wide range of artistic expressions. The artists were born or spent most of their lives in America. Their art may or may not contain obvious Jewish content, but it is usually influenced by Jewish values and culture....This is a good introduction to Jewish American art. Using the artists own words to explain their perspectives on art enriches the presentation. The Encyclopedia of Jewish American Artists is a useful resource for academic, Judaica, and large public libraries."Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

"Basking provides a thoughtful preface elucidating her selection of artists (she does not claim comprehensiveness). Regarding Jewishness: some of the artists explicitly express their Jewish identity in their work; others do not. Regarding American: many were not born in the US, but they did arrive at a young age and identify as Americans. After setting context with a historical essay, Baskind profiles 80-plus artists, offering, for each, biographical information, discussion of oeuvre, a bibliography, and a selected list of public collections. Aside from providing a convenient resource, one of Baskind's aims is to support discussion about what indeed can be seen as Jewish about an artist's work."Reference & Research Book News

". . . this is a useful volume for historians of Jewish culture in America. It is surprising how many good artists of Jewish origin one can find, if one looks hard enough. Baskind's interviews with some of the artists provide interesting material. Jewish American Artists takes its place alongside similar compilations of Jews in sports, in the cinema, and so forth, and makes us feel good that we belong to such an artistic nation."Jews and the Sporting Life


"This carefully researched reference work not only introduces readers to 85 American Jewish artists, it also poses the question of what makes the work of these artists Jewish. A masterful introduction to a much neglected subject."—Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University


College & Research Libraries Selected Reference Works, 2006-2007

Other Titles of Interest

Encyclopedia of African American Artists cover imageEncyclopedia of Native American Artists cover imageEncyclopedia of Arab American Artists cover image
Encyclopedia of Asian American Artists cover image

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