Tag Archives: art and jewish identity

Exhibition: Rothenstein’s Relevance

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The exhibition ‘Rothenstein’s Relevance: Sir William Rothenstein and his Circle’ will open at the Ben Uri Gallery on Boundary Road in London on September 11th. It will be Ben Uri’s first exhibition on this hugely influential figure and is a partial tour of the Bradford exhibition, From Bradford to Benares: the art of Sir William Rothenstein (Cartwright Hall Gallery, 7 March – 12 July 2015), reconfigured for its London showing.

The exhibition comprises approximately 40 works including paintings, works on paper and archival material and aims to re-examine the significance, influence and continuing importance of Rothenstein’s artistic achievements. The exhibition will examine major themes from Rothenstein’s career including Jewish subjects, portraiture and figure studies (in Paris, London and Gloucestershire) and the First and Second World Wars. These will be contextualised by work on similar themes by a number of mostly younger contemporaries including Barnett Freedman, Mark Gertler, Eric Kennington, Jacob Kramer, Albert Rutherston and Alfred Wolmark, who were all either influenced directly by, or worked alongside, Rothenstein. Continue reading

Edwardian Encounters: Jacob Kramer – A Study in Resolvable Contradictions

Self-Portrait by Jacob Kramer, 1930

Self-Portrait by Jacob Kramer, 1930

Since July 2, 2015, the Ben Uri Gallery has been celebrating its hundredth year in London. Founded in July, 1915, by a Russian Jew, the gallery has, in the course of a century, exhibited the work of Eastern European (largely Pale-of-Settlement born) Jewish painters living in England.

In “Ben Uri at 100”, David Herman splits these painters into two groups (roughly pre- and post-World War II) and notes the “variety and vitality of modern Jewish art and its complicated relationship with modern Jewish history”. Herman argues that the so-called “Whitechapel Boys,” who came of age at the turn of the century, among them the Vorticist fellow-traveler Mark Gertler, Isaac Rosenberg, and Jacob Kramer, expressed clear interest in Jewish-identified themes. Conversely, the post-war, post-Holocaust generation, which featured such luminaries as Lucien Freud and Frank Auerbach, fought shy of Jewish content and only, somehow, expressed Jewishness through formal “darkness.”

Jacob Kramer clearly does not fit into the generational or identitarian binaries outlined by Herman. Continue reading