Constructing and Deconstructing Jewish Art at Bar-Ilan University

1 Sep

CONSTRUCTING AND DECONSTRUCTING JEWISH ART is a three day conference covering many aspects of Jewish Visual Art from September 7th – 10th, 2015.

Sessions include: “Expanding the Methodological Toolbox: Modern and Contemporary Contexts”, “The “Artless Jew” Discourse” and more.
Get more information and view the full program at

With fundamental shifts in culture, art history, and Jewish studies during the recent decades, it has become increasingly crucial for the custodians of higher education to carefully re-examine their approach to the history and interpretation of what is referred to as ‘Jewish’ art in both traditionalist scholarship and in the practice of art making, curatorship, and connoisseurship. Responding to developments in the humanities, communication studies, social studies and psychology, contemporary art history commonly embraces investigations of any image or object created for the sake of communicating meanings or emotions, and thus often replaces the term ‘art’ with a semantically broader term ‘visual culture.’ Contemporary scholarly research and the academic teaching of ‘Jewish’ art—like postmodern Jewish history and historiography —are increasingly distancing themselves from the search for any single exhaustive definition of the adjective ‘Jewish’ as applied to art, culture, and history. Instead, they tend to focus upon the variety and flexibility of both individual and collective Jewish self-identification throughout the ages. Scholarly discourse steadily moves away from the oft-repeated questions “Does Jewish art exist?” and “What is Jewish art?” to the inquiry “What is Jewish in ‘Jewish’ art?”—attempting to investigate Jewish visual cultures and their messages in their multiple contexts and interactions with the surroundings. This notwithstanding, even though the signifier ‘Jewish’ in the phrase ‘Jewish art’ is conventional and only loosely describes its object, it still relates to its signified in a fashion no less significant than the strict meaning of ‘middle’ does to ‘ages’ in the historical sciences, or the definition ‘charm’ does to quarks in particle physics. Thus the term ‘Jewish art’ can be instrumental in our discussion of visual culture, artistic expression, and appreciation of the plastic arts.

Register for the conference by emailing [email protected]

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