Posts Tagged ‘Sotheby’s

17
Dec
13

Sotheby’s Upcoming Jewish Auctions – Part 2 – Israeli and International Art


Sotheby’s (1334 York Avenue; NY, NY 10021; Tel:212.606.7000), second Jewish themed auction which is also taking place today, features paintings, photographs, scuplture and DVDs. While much of the art is of a very Jewish nature one can easily recognize outside influences such as the French Fauves in the works of Mane-Katz, who is well represented here. It is obvious therefore that while weaving a Jewish theme, these artists often see it through the style of their contemporaries.

Can we therefore, talk about Jewish art as more than just the representation of certain subject matter? Absolutely! As I went through the exhibit it was quite obvious that Jewish painters, sculptors, photographers – while using the styles, the colors, the techniques, the equipment prevalent in their time – also bring a unique perspective, a unique sensitivity, a unique joy, a unique pain, all of them quintessentially Jewish.

It is outside the scope of this blog to discuss every single item, or even a significant number of them, but here are a few of the artworks that impressed me.

I found Samuel Bak‘s Untitled (Lot 69), very powerful…

kosher-scene-copyright-copy22

Ebak

Bak, a surrealist painter, is a Holocaust survivor with a powerful eye for detail – who portrays his personal nightmares and symbolism. The above Untitled work is subtitled (Experimente Mit der Weisheit – Experiment with Wisdom). Without showing an actually war scene, it portrays, the horrors, the aftermath of battle. Painted in 1974, it is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. Four other works by this painter are included, as well, ranging between $12,000 to $20,000.

Moshe Gershuni is represented by two works, my personal favorite…

MGershuni2

…of the two, is the above monochromatic canvas (Lot 86), in shades of grey. Bold, strong, heavy brushstrokes create almost a sculpture on the canvas. It was painted in 2005-2006 and is estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.

Reuven Rubin also has a number of works here that show an evolution of styles and subjects…

ReuRub

Painted in 1928, The Milkman (Lot 27) depicts his love and amazement at the new land he had recently arrived in, Palestine. It has an estimated price ranging from $300,000 to $350,000. Two years later in 1930, Jakob Steinhardt in The Sunday Preacher (Lot 54), painted a powerful prophetic warning against the Weimar Republic’s decadence and the evil of things to come, it is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000.

Between the powerful photography of Adi Nes, to the very personal art (sculpture and DVDs) of Sigalit Landau, works by Ohad Meromi depict the anti-hero.

Omer1

The Psychedelic Protagonist (Lot 134), shows a despondent would be musician of undefinable age, reaching out – perhaps halfheartedly – for a hallucinogenic mushroom. Will he pick it up? Will he use it? This work is priced between $15,000 to $18,000.

From Ludwig Blum‘s idyllic View of Jerusalem (Lot 8), painted in 1937 and estimated at $40,000 to $60,000…

LudBlum

…to Yigal Ozery‘s study of a decaying building in Window (Lot 124), estimated at $12,000 to $15,000…

YigOz

From idealism, to warnings and fear, from hope to despair, from celebration to tears, the whole rainbow of human emotions, is represented here in many styles, in many colors. The range of Jewish experience, dreams and nightmares, laughter and tears, yet an absolute belief that future will be a bright one, from the late 19th century onward, is shown through varied media as explained by Jennifer Roth, two evenings ago, on our radio show.  There is something here for every taste and almost every pocket!

CS

16
Dec
13

Sotheby’s Upcoming Jewish Auctions – Part 1 – Important Judaica


Sotheby’s (1334 York Avenue; NY, NY 10021; Tel:212.606.7000) is having two exhibits on subjects of Jewish interest, prior to the auctions on Tuesday, the 17th of December. There are a hundred and sixty one lots in the Important Judaica exhibit, with one hundred and forty two lots in Israeli and International Art.

Many unusual items are shown in the Important Judaica section, including paintings, ceremonial art, books and more, ranging from antiquity to the 20th century in age. Quite a number of items impressed me, following is a small sampling…

kosher-scene-copyright-copy22

Hamisha Humshei Torah - Printed in 1561

Hamisha Humshei Torah – Printed in 1561

The above pictured item, Lot 136, includes the full Chumash together with RaSH”I and a condensed version of Elija Mizrahi‘s Sefer Mizrahi (a supercommentary on RaSH”I), titled Kitzur Mizrahi, as authored by Jacob Marcaria in Riva di Trento. Marcaria was a physician, printer and author. He printed a small number of titles in the press of German Rabbi Yosef Ottolengo – who had been licensed to print Hebrew books by Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo, Bishop of Trento. Included here are the Megillot (Scrolls) with commentaries by RaSH”I and Yitzchak Arama. It was obviously meant as a synagogue volume as it also includes the haftarot for the whole year as well as commentaries to aid in understanding these additional biblical readings. It is estimated to sell for $5,000 to $7,000.

Another book I found compelling was Sefatayim Yishak, Lot 143. In this slim volume are two letters written by Rabbi Jacob Yehoshua Falk – an ally of Rabbi Yaakov Emden – and Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Amsterdam – another staunch Emden ally and his brother-in-law. The letters, directed to the Rabbinical Court in Prague, expressed great concern and opposition to the newly appointed Rabbi of the German cities of Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbeck, Rabbi Yonathan Eybeschutz. Since Rabbi Eybeschutz‘ son and brother were known as Shabtai Tzvi followers, Rabbi Emden (whose father, the Chacham Tzvi, had been involved in a bitter fight against Nechemya Ochayon, after the latter was proven to be a full fledged Sabbatean) suspected Rabbi Eybeschutz‘ of secretly being a Sabbatean (especially after the latter gave a pregnant woman an amulet he wrote). This item is estimated at $10,000 to $12,000, it was printed in Altona in 1752.

More interesting books, among others, include Robert Estienne‘s Biblia Hebraica - in eight volumes – printed during a two and half year period from 1543 to 1546 (Lot 137), estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. An unusual collection of moral fables and animal stories, Meshal Ha-Kadmoni (Lot 134), by Yitzchak Ibn Shahula (and discussed by David Wachtel during last evening’s broadcast, on our radio show), has an estimated range of $30,000 to $40,000. It has some eighty woodcut illustrations and the material is based on the Talmud and Midrashim, with kabbalistic and Indian influences.

A very unusual tome, which appeared in Catania (Sicily), is a Compendium of Medical Treatises in Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew (Lot 96). While Arab copies of some of these works are relatively common, only three other copies in Hebrew letters are known. Jews lived in Catania as early as 383 B.C and many references to this town indicate, in later centuries, the presence of of numerous Jewish physicians. It’s price is expected to come in at around $8,000 to $12,000.

This medical book appeared around 1452

This medical book appeared around 1452

Another rare treasure is the first printed edition of the Talmud Yerushalmi by Daniel Bomberg (Lot 133). It took two years to print it (1522 to 1524), and was based on Yechiel ben Yekuthiel ben Benyamin Ha-Rofe‘s work from 1289, known as the Leyden Manuscript. It is expected to sell between $20,000 to $30,000.

Oppenhaim's the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara - painted in 1862, four years after the tragic event.

Oppenhaim’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara – painted in 1862, four years after the tragic event.

Among the paintings in this auction, two stand out. Moritz Daniel Oppenheim‘s The Kidnapping of Egardo Mortara (Lot 60)*, depicts a horrible event from 1858 that drew international interest and world outrage against the Pope and the Catholic Church. This barbaric, unashamedly antisemitic act, was the catalyst that brought about the Resorgimento – the unification of Italy under King Vittorio Emmanuele and the erosion of Papal power over the country in 1870). It is estimated to bring in $200,000 to $300,000. Isidor Kaufman‘s Portrait of a Young Rabbi (Lot 61), is another very powerful painting, with estimates ranging from $100,000 to $150,000.

Painted circa 1897

Painted circa 1897

The two watercolors by Georg Emanuel Opitz (Lot 62) (not a Jewish artist, though many of his works show Jews), depict rather whimsically a Jewish teacher punishing one of his students as the other kids make fun of their mentor behind his back,  as explained by Jennifer Roth last evening on our radio show. The second watercolor shows a mother trying to intercede – on behalf of her daughter and her nervous suitor – with the father to accept the match. Both watercolors are expected to go for $8,000 to 12,000.

There are also many other items ranging from Torah finials, to crowns, to breastplates, to candelabra and more. All in all, this is a superb collection of items spanning hundreds of years and into the 20th century. Truly Important Judaica!

CS

* The white colored streaks in Oppenheim’s painting above do not show damage to the canvas, they are nothing more than reflections of the light in the exhibition hall.

26
Apr
13

About Tomorrow’s Radio Show…


After a far too long hiatus (due to the final disease and subsequent ptirah of my uncle – Henry Moss, alav haShalom), we are back with a radio show special on motzey Shabbat at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time). We prerecorded it on Wednesday, at Sotheby’s, at the press intro to the exhibit of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection.

The collection's catalog...

The collection’s catalog…

Detail of a very ornate Shabbat oil lamp, from the 18th Frankfurt Ghetto

Detail of a very ornate Shabbat oil lamp, from the 18th century Frankfurt am/Main ghetto.

We spoke with Jennifer Roth, Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Department Head of the Judaica Department, John D. Ward, Vice President and Department Head of the Silver Department, Sharon Liberman Mintz and David Wachtel, Senior Judaica Consultants. The exhibit covers a millennium and a half of Jewish Ceremonial Art, from aquamanile to matza tools, from German Shabbat oil lamps to a British decorative silver plate given by the Jewish community to the Lord Mayor of London, to an illuminated medieval edition of MaimonidesMishnah Torah and hundreds more. Each item is unique, some are very rare, all show the extent to which the Jews appreciated art and integrated the artistic fashion of the time into their every day ceremonial needs.

The conversations with the four experts listed above were fascinating, as they opened up a new way to look at our history, at our values, and how the Jews truly fared in the European societies of old. Please listen to this fascinating show at BlogTalkRadio.com/kosherscene at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time) motzei Shabbat.

Meanwhile, in case you missed, please listen to the archive of our last show with Paula Shoyer.

Don’t forget to listen in tomorrow evening at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time), we’ll be wait’n for ya.

CS




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