By Tom Sandqvist
This survey asks a doubtless easy query: Is there an affinity among the emergence of contemporary artwork and diverse Avant-Garde hobbies akin to Russian Suprematism and varnish or Hungarian Constructivism round in regards to the flip of the final century and the method of Jewish assimilation within the Habsburg empire and Russian tsardom respectively? What concerning the attainable connection among «Hebraism», Jewish Messianism, Talmudic philosophy, and Kabbalistic speculations and the main radical, Utopian Avant-Garde hobbies of the sector? used to be Russian Cubo-Futurism, Suprematism, Productivism, Polish and Hungarian Constructivism truly fostered by means of rules and practices articulated in japanese Jewry? And what used to be the influence of Anti-Semitism on how the artists relating to stylistic purity and their very own cultural id within the sector already sooner than the emergence of Avant-Gardism? and the way did the meant biblical ban on «graven images» impression the technique of the Jewish artists?
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Additional resources for Ahasuerus at the Easel: Jewish Art and Jewish Artists in Central and Eastern European Modernism at the Turn of the Last Century
On the other hand the American art historian Joseph Gutmann’s attempt in the same study to define the term of Jewish art appears as particularly interesting in regard to the Jewish participation in and its importance for Central and Eastern European Modernism, not the least in relation to the discussion about the multiple identity, the 19th century’s processes of assimilation and the specific Jewish historical experiences i relation to Jewish thought and Jewish philosophy. According to Gutmann, we cannot speak of any Jewish art as a distinct and clearly-defined entity when it comes to artistic style, since there are simply no common stylistic traits for all the objects and artistic idioms which would signify these as Jewish.
At the same time Kafka turned to Rudolf Steiner45 only to discover his own Jewish roots in Eastern European Yiddish 44 About Orientalism and the Jews, see also for instance Davidson Kalmar – Penslar 2005. 45 See for instance Etkes (Tumarkin-Goodman 2001), p. 77, 79, 83. 45 theater and Hasidism, exactly like the writer and philosopher György Lukács did in Budapest almost simultaneously. In March 1900, the incredibly successful Bohemian-Jewish artist Emil Orlik in turn embarked the German ship Prinz Heinrich in the harbor of Genoa to take himself even more eastwards than any of his colleagues, namely to Japan, so much fostered by turn of the century Orientalism.
A Jew from an Eastern European “ghetto” dressed in his caftan, moreover speaking Yiddish and boasting of his twisted side-curls was a pain for the Jewish bourgeoisie, the well-known “Ostjude” syndrome. Then artists like Isidor Kaufmann and Max Oppenheim had to remind the bourgeoisie – as well as other members of the educated layers of society – of the greatness of the ancient religious life, the very point of departure for their “mission”. Already at the beginning of the “Jewish century”, the Berlin-based lawyer Karl W.