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February 20, 2011 1:04 pm

What is Jewish art?

avatar by Yitzchok Moully

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Maurycy Gottlieb/Yitzchok Moully

This is a question any self respecting Jewish artist – and others- ask from time to time.

In a time where art is going in many different directions, what is defined as Jewish art?

What are the parameters that define Jewish art? What guidelines does it need to adhere to, to qualify? What rules does it need to embrace or throw off to express itself?

If artistic expression has so many different definitions with so diverse a face, how does a niche corner of the art experience show itself?

Jewish art always has and continues to be a diverse fluid being. As the debate to what defined Jewish art continues, the lines in the sand continue to shift, as art evolves so does Jewish art. From street graffiti to pose, from experimental video to watercolor there is no area of art that is off limits or excluded from Jewish art.

It would be futile to say one has a concrete answer to what defines Jewish art; it is too diverse to be boxed in, too broad for a single definition.

One great place to begin searching would be the artist themselves.

Equal to the question of what defines Jewish art, is what makes an artist a Jewish artist? Is it solely defined by one who is Jewish? Perhaps that would be too simple.

In the search to define Jewish art, the artist is an intimate integral element in the process.

When an artist defines their work as Jewish art, what drives them to do so? What processes does the artist go through to come to such a conclusion? What yard stick is it measured against? When setting out to break all boundaries, how does it still remain Jewish art?

This blog is dedicated to exploring the inner workings of artists who define themselves as Jewish artists. What makes them define themselves so? What internal evolution do they go through to get there? What relationship do they and their work have to Jewish values and ideas? What is the process they go through with each piece of work to define it as Jewish? How does Judaism influence them and their work? – Or not?

Understanding the evolution and struggle of the Jewish artist will give us a window in to the soul of Jewish art.

Each blog post will bring you an artist and their unique perspective, their process and inner struggles as they smooth the edges of their corner of Jewish art.

Enjoy the journey and please share your thoughts.

Yitzchok moully

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  • Interesting read Thanks ..David

  • Where can i locate the facebook like button in this page?

  • Sarah M.


  • Shalom,
    I would like to read your paper, and any other papers on the subject. Where can i find a copy of it on line?


  • This reads just like a paper I submitted to the Bronfman competition, four years ago.