Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2009 - 8/31/2010

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Jewish Artists and the Bible in 20th-Century America

FAIN: FB-54176-09

Samantha Baskind
Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH 44115-2214)

This project looks at several Jewish American artists' exploration of the distinctive and largely overlooked theme of biblical imagery. The project will fill this significant gap and will contribute to the material culture of American religions, areas of current interest as evidenced by recent scholarship. Additionally, the project will bring several critically ignored artists to attention. My goal is to expand and complicate the canon of American art by asking the following questions: Why did these artists exhibit a propensity toward biblical subjects? Why is there not a similar corpus of biblical art by non-Jewish artists? What does this work have to do with the American art historical narrative? How does this work critique the then-existing social order(s), life in the Diaspora, and the Jewish American assimilation experience?

Media Coverage

Radio interview with the author, Samantha Baskind (Media Coverage)
Publication: Marginalia Radio - A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel
Date: 2/24/2014
Abstract: Art Remillard talks with Samantha Baskind about her book, Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America (Penn State University Press, 2014). Baskind is Professor of Art History at Cleveland State University.

Associated Products

Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America (Book)
Title: Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America
Author: Samantha Baskind
Abstract: Jack Levine, George Segal, Audrey Flack, Larry Rivers, and R. B. Kitaj have long been considered central artists in the canon of twentieth-century American art: Levine for his biting paintings and prints of social conscience, Segal for his quiet plaster figures evoking the alienation inherent in modern life, Flack for her feminist photorealist canvases, Rivers for his outrageous pop art statements, and Kitaj for his commitment to figuration. Much less known is the fact that at times, all five artists devoted their attention to biblical imagery, in part because of a shared Jewish heritage to which they were inexorably tied. Taking each artist as an extensive case study, Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America uncovers how these artists and a host of their Jewish contemporaries adopted the Bible in innovative ways. Indeed, as Samantha Baskind demonstrates, by linking the past to the present, Jewish American artists customized the biblical narrative in extraordinary ways to address modern issues such as genocide and the Holocaust, gender inequality, assimilation and the immigrant experience, and the establishment and fate of the modern State of Israel, among many other pertinent concerns.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Worldcat
Publisher: Pennsylvania University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780271059839
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes