Icons of Jewishness
“Friday Evening”, painted in around 1920 by the Jewish-Austrian artist Isidor Kaufmann, who specialized in genre scenes of life among the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s on view in a permanent-collection show at the Jewish Museum in New York. Producing images so deeply entrenched in the European pictorial tradition must have been part of this community’s profound attempt at assimilation, although here that’s in interesting tension with subject matter that tries to assert its separateness. Neither assimilation nor separation made any difference in the tragic decades that followed.
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