Looking Jewish

Looking Jewish : Visual Culture and Modern Diaspora

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Jewish art and visual culture-art made by Jews about Jews-in modern diasporic settings is the subject of Looking Jewish. Carol Zemel focuses on particular artists and cultural figures in interwar Eastern Europe and postwar America who blended Jewishness and mainstream modernism to create a diasporic art, one that transcends dominant national traditions. She begins with a painting by Ken Aptekar entitled Albert: Used to Be Abraham, a double portrait of a man, which serves to illustrate Zemel's conception of the doubleness of Jewish diasporic art. She considers two interwar photographers, Alter Kacyzne and Moshe Vorobeichic; images by the Polish writer Bruno Schulz; the pre- and postwar photographs of Roman Vishniac; the figure of the Jewish mother in postwar popular culture (Molly Goldberg); and works by R. B. Kitaj, Ben Katchor, and Vera Frenkel that explore Jewish identity in a postmodern environment.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 216 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 101.6mm | 294.83g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 74 b&w illus., 2 maps
  • 0253005981
  • 9780253005984
  • 1,413,695

Table of contents

1. Beyond the Ghetto Walls: Shtetl to Nation in Photography by Alter Kacyzne and Moshe Vorobeichic
2. Modern Artist, Modern Jew: Bruno Schulz's Diasporas
3. Z'chor! Roman Vishniac's Photo-Eulogy of Eastern European Jews
4. Difference in Diaspora: The Yiddishe Mama, the Jewish Mother, the Jewish Princess and their Men
5. Diasporic Values in Contemporary Art: Kitaj, Katchor, Frenkel
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Review quote

In the end, thanks to Carol Zemel's provocative study, we are invited to look at Jewish art in new ways. Looking Jewish provides a deeper understanding of the ordeal of diaspora, along with a rich, if partial mapping of Jewish expressive culture as seen through a diasporic lens. * Studies in American Jewish Literature * Zemel's work is an important contribution to theoretical conceptions of diaspora. Additionally her work is significant for those working to expand attention given to visual culture in Jewish life and to rethink Jewish art history, offering astute case studies of images of and by Jews in several different contexts. * H-Judaic * Zemel models a thoughtful, clear, and concise academic style without losing the reader in jargon, and she provides plenty of context and definitions to make the text accessible to readers unfamiliar with Jewish terms and concepts. The book is nicely produced and pleasant to read, with good black-and-white reproductions that illustrate the text well. Thorough endnotes, a detailed index, and an extremely rich bibliography further enhance the book's usability. . . . Highly recommended. * ARLIS/NA *
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About Carol M. Zemel

Carol Zemel is Professor Emerita of Art History and Visual Culture in the Department of Visual Arts at York University, Toronto.
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