Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Columbus Museum of Art: Jewish Marriage Pacts Binding, Beautiful

By Christopher A. Yates
For more than two thousand years, the ketubbah, or Hebrew marriage contract, has been an integral part of Jewish culture.
OHIO---Thirty Jewish marriage contracts, ranging from 12th-century Egypt to present-day New York, are featured in “The Art of Matrimony” at the Columbus Museum of Art. Perhaps best understood as documents expressing the promises that grooms make to brides, the contracts (ketubah) protect women in cases of divorce or the death of a spouse. Names, dates and wedding locations are included along with obligations involving conjugal relations, food, shelter and clothing. [link]

Columbus Museum of Art: “The Art of Matrimony: Thirty Splendid Marriage Contracts from The Jewish Theological Seminary Library,” (Ends June 15); 480 E Broad St, Columbus, OH; (614) 221-6801;

Hindu & Buddhist Art Exhibit at Metropolitan Highlights Formations in the Stone

By Lee Lawrence
Krishna Govardhana, from seventh-century southern Cambodia National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
NEW YORK---The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia" is a monumental show in about every sense of the word. At least one third of its 150-plus works are large sculptures and reliefs. And the show's very concept reflects new findings and directions in scholarship. The result is a show with as much to attract specialists—from inscriptions on first-time loans from Myanmar or the earliest-known statue of Vishnu from southern Cambodia—as there is to delight art lovers generally. The artistry displayed in the show's fifth- and sixth-century works speaks to a prior mastery of art production. While there is still much to be learned about early Southeast Asian artists and the cultures they helped form, their conversation is a momentous first step. One can only hope more will follow. [link]

Passover, the Jewish Holiday for Gentiles

By Lauren Davidson
A Passover seder at the White House in 2009 (Pete Souza/Reuters)
Passover is a festival of questions, many of which can be summed up by the single query: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Here’s one answer: It’s the Jewish festival that non-Jews love to observe. The seder, the ceremonial feast held on the first two nights of Passover.... The festival commemorates the exodus from Egypt, a key step in the formation of the Jewish people. In other words, Passover does not seem like the most obvious festival for outsider participation. And yet every spring, non-kosher restaurants, churches and student organizations around the U.S.—not to mention Jewish homes—invite non-Jews to relive the Israelites’ exodus from bondage. Even the White House has held a seder since 2008. [link]

Irene Leache Memorial Gifts to Chrysler Museum Strengthen Collection

"Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and Angels" (16th century) by Cornelis van Cleve, .
VIRGINIA---The Irene Leache Memorial Foundation has donated its entire collection of European Old Master paintings, sculpture, tapestries, and decorative arts to the Chrysler Museum of Art. At its March meeting, the museum’s board of trustees voted unanimously to accession the Irene Leache Memorial art collection. On long-term loan to the Museum since within a year of its 1933 opening, the Irene Leache Memorial collection comprises 27 works of art dating from the 14th through 19th centuries. Accompanying the gifts of art is another substantial bequest—an endowed curatorship. [link]

Women Restoring Sikh Art at Golden Temple

Sikh pilgrim at the Golden Temple. Courtesy of IMC On Air.
INDIA---Even though women are barred from performing kirtan at the Golden Temple, a team of women who now shoulder the responsibility of restoration of the fast deteriorating wall decorations within the darbar sahib. Hailing from different parts of India and belonging to different faiths, these women will soon bring these beautiful paintings back to their original glory. Known as fresco paintings, this style of painting is also called the “Sikh School of Art”. These paintings which adorn the main darbar hall and the walls of the staircases are done with natural colors and are renowned all over the world for the detailing and delicacy of the art. These frescoes were originally painted in 1830 during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh took on the gilding of the darbar sahib. They were done by artist Giani Sant Singh along with many Muslim artists. [link]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

East-West/West-East: Qatar Unveils Desert Sculpture by American Artist Richard Serra

New towering sculptures by Richard Serra in the desert of Doha
DOHA (AFP)---Four steel plates rise out of Qatar's desert sands like behemoths, symbolising, according to US artist Richard Serra who created the sculpture, the connection between the wealthy Gulf state's two regions. The sculpture, East-West/West-East, was unveiled on Tuesday in a desert area around 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the capital Doha, by the sister of Qatar's emir, who has been named by Britain's ArtReview as the most influential figure in the art world. The sculpture, which consists of four steel plates which rise to heights varying between 14.7 metres (48 feet) and 16.7 metres (55 feet), was commissioned by Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bint al-Thani. [link]

Message of Passover is One for All of Humanity: Jews, Blacks, Everyone

By Rabbi Brad Bloom
"The Captive Slave," by John Philip Simpson (1827) SUBMITTED PHOTO
SOUTH CAROLINA---I was strolling through The Art Institute of Chicago when I came across a painting from John Philip Simpson, an English artist, titled "The Captive Slave." Simpson painted it in 1827, and it portrays a black man wearing an orange shirt with shackles around his wrists. This painting was considered controversial at the time because of the national debate in England concerning the moral and political issues of slavery. This painting might have caught my attention because Passover is this week. The power of art is that it tells a story.  Slavery was, and is today, an abhorrent institution. Even though Passover is exclusively a Jewish holy day, it does possess a universal theme of freedom for humanity, which inspired writers and painters in history up through today. [link]