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Every so often, the organizers of an art exhibition attempt to address head-on issues of interest in the world of contemporary politics. Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change, 1890-1990 represents such an undertaking. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, countries and cultures under Soviet control suddenly opened up to the West. In the past few years, as information has begun to flow more freely, art historians have found themselves having to re-examine their subjects and concerns in the light of newly accessible information. Nowhere is this situation more apparent than in the study of Jewish artists in Russia. Until recently, books and catalogues written in the West have concentrated on work done by Russian Jewish artists in exile. Now, for the first time, an international group of scholars has been assembled to address the last hundred years of art produced by Jews living in Russia itself.
Given the present state of research, Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change, 1890-1990 - which documents an exhibition organized by The Jewish Museum, New York - purposely proposes more questions than it answers. A lucid historical overview by historian Michael Stanislawski followed by seven thought-provoking essays by an international roster of art historians who address, in chronological sequence, the difficult, frequently uplifting history of Jewish art in Russia in the modern period.
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The catalog of an exhibition opening at the Jewish Museum in New York and then traveling internationally, this volume examines Jewish artists in Russia under the Czars and communism. As seen here, these artists were persecuted before 1917, generally supported the revolution, and then fell victim to Stalin's purges. After Michael Stanislawski's excellent historical overview, the development of Jewish art in Russia is examined chronologically in seven well-written and informative essays done by art historians. A valuable section on the biographies of the leading artists follows. The illustrations support the essays and are well reproduced. A valuable book for any library interested in 20th-century art.?Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, Ct.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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