"American Jews have made tremendous contributions in all aspects of
general culture. In the professions, in music, in ltierature, in painting and
sculpture, in the academic world, and in the area of science, Jews are
often distinguished and in many instances pre-eminent."
-- Milton Plesur, 1982, p. 168-169
Jews are dominant in virtually all controlling facets of the modern art world. In the world of "high-culture" dance, music, and theatre, for decades S. Hurok Productions was the major force in performance promotion. When Sol Hurok (born Solomon Izrailevich Gurkov) died in 1974, notes Harlan Robinson, "he was the last large-scale independent commercial producer of high culture in the United States ... [ROBINSON, p. xv] ... [He] was an important force behind the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts." [ROBINSON, p. xiv] An early Hurok partner was Jacob Berman. [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 120] An early competitor in the "concert management business" was Daniel Mayer's and Marks Levine's National Broadcasting and Concert Bureau, with links to the fledgling NBC broadcast network. [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 133] In 1972 Hurok's head of publicity, Martin Feinstein, became the Executive Director of Performing Arts for the newly created John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC. (Hurok's son-in-law, Barry Hyams, originally hired Feinstein to the Hurok firm. [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 298] In 1975, the president of Hurok Concerts, Sheldon Gold, was replaced by Maynard Goldman. Gold became president later of the major talent agency ICM Artists Ltd., a newly formed classical music and dance division of Marvin Josephson Associates.
In assessment of Hurok's closest associates, Harlan Robinson notes that "beyond his domestic employees [cook, servant], Hurok had not real close friends, with the possible exception of [Jewish violinist Isaac] Stern. The violinist was also a favorite with Peter Hyams and Peter's sister Nessa. They also remember their grandfather had a group of 'cronies,' including some Russian Jews, whom he had known for years and to whom he remained steadfastly loyal. These included his accountant and his longtime lawyer, Elias Lieberman, an old-time socialist who had helped to found the International Ladies Garment Workers Union" [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 405] At Huro's death, he "left money to his grandchildren and to a variety of Jewish charitable organizations ... Surprisingly, only one performing arts organization was included in Hurok's will: the Musicians Emergency Fund, Inc." [ROBINSON, H. 1994, p. 462]
Hurok was even succesful in getting a Hollywood movie made about his life (screenplay writers: Harry Kurnitz and George Oppenheimer; producer: Georgie Jessel). [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 320] "Highest on the list of Hurok's demands [for the movie] was the removal of any Jewish ethnicity in the character of the impressario hero or his associates ...[ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 321] ... Similarly, Hurok strongly objected to the presence of 'the stock figures of cigar-smoking impresarios' present in the script's original opening sequence. Such images would, he feared, detract from the image of refinement and good taste he wanted his fictionalized self to convey ... [He did not want to appear as] some sort of back-room shyster." [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 322] In the mainstream, the resultant film was not widely acclaimed. The Jewish Ledger declared, however, that "Jews in America will be proud of the film .. Himself a very modest person, Mr. Hurok is very much interested in everything that is Jewish and lends a helping hand in Jeish affairs." [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 332]
In the world of theatre, notes Lester Friedman, "by the early 1890s a good deal of the theatrical booking business in New York City was in Jewish hands, thanks to the Klaw & Erlanger syndicate, the Shubert brothers, Marcus Loew and Adolph Zukor, the Schenck brothers, and a host of other agents and stage managers." [FRIEDMAN, L., 1982, p. 9]
Likewise, for decades the most prominent mogul on Broadway was a Jewish producer, David Merrick (born David Margulies). Merrick's abusive personality saddled him with a widely known nickname: "the abominable showman." Another Jewish theatre mogul, Joseph Papp (Papirofsky), founded the New York Shakespeare Festival, created the influential Public Theatre for playwrights, and produced such Broadway hits as Hair and A Chorus Line. Papp's "ego was huge," says Jewish author Helen Epstein,
"but instead of slickness, he exuded reserve and a sobriety that made me think
of Old Testament patriarchs ... Papp had influenced a huge number of his
contemporaries and younger people in the arts. Hundreds of writers, actors,
directors, composers, dessigners, producers, arts administrators, stage managers, journalists and critics traced the beginnings of their careers to the [Shakespeare]
Festival. Thousands more dated thier first exposure to Shakespeare to a production
in Central Park. Millions of others had seen yhis productions on television and on
Broadway. The name Joseph Papp embodied the history and very best possibilities
of New York." [EPSTEIN, H., 1994, p. 10-ll]
Oscar Hammerstein I, also Jewish, by the early years of the 20th century built thirteen theatres/music hall (often for the opera) in New York, Philadelphia, and London. "The name and personality of Oscar Hammerstein," notes Vincent Sheean, "became as familiar to the nation as if he had been elected its President ... Oscar Hammerstein ... commanded more space in the press than the Vanderbilts, Astors, Morgans, than William Jennings Bryan or indeed any other personage of his day except President Theodore Roosevelt." [SHEEAN, V., 1956, p. 3-4] Hammerstein (and son Willie) even owned the Victoria Theatre ("the great nut vaudeville house of New York") which was famed for freak shows, featuring "persons notorious for whatever reason" -- "bridge jumpers and stunt flyers, divorcees, channel swimmers, and record-breakers of any kind; whether they had stage talent was irrelevant." [SHEEAN, 1956, p. 112] Hammerstein's greatest rival in the opera world (who eventually bought him out) was also Jewish, Otto Kahn, "banker and connoisseur of the arts [and] principal financial power of the Metropolitan [Opera Company]." [SHEEAN, V., 1956, p. 296]
But the most powerful entrepreneurial network in theatre production and control has long been the Shubert company. Jerry Stagg notes that Samuel, Jacob, and Lee (Levi) Shubert "invaded New York City in 1900, armed with tireless energy, boundless confidence, a lust for money, power, and fame, and $15,000, most of it borrowed. A quarter of a center later, their worth was estimated at half a billion dollars. [The Shuberts] took control of theatre in America." [STAGG, p. 3] (Shubert CEO in the year 2000? Gerald Schoenfeld). More at ground level, Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler of New York's Group Theatre were legendary and profoundly influential acting teachers. Lawrence Langner was one of the founders of the Washington Square Players.
As Ellen Schiff notes:
"A few years ago, Tyrone Guthrie speculated that if Jews withdrew from the
American theatre, the institution 'would collapse about next Thursday.'
Guthrie was no doubt assessing Jewish contributions at every level of
of show business from artistic, to administrators, to 'angels.' [i.e,
philanthropists]." [SCHIFF, E., 1986, p. 79]
By 1999, Jewish entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman's SFX company was causing shock waves in the live theatre and music promotion worlds. In one and a half years it had spent $1.5 billion in gobbling up other companies. The Financial Post noted that he was still attempting to "strengthen his domination of live theatre promotion in the United States. SFX also is the single largest player in [music] concert promotion. So large, in fact, that regulators expressed concern last year ... SFX is now believed to be close to purchasing its only major rival, Universal Concerts, a division of Montreal firm Seagram Company [controlled by the Jewish Bronfman family]." [LANG, A., 5-28-99, p. C1, C17]
SFX also owns or operates over 80 venues in the United States, mostly concert halls, as well as the rights to many theatrical productions (Phantom of the Opera, et al). It also produces over 13,000 events a year. Its recently purchased Falk Associated Management Enterprises division manages 650 professional athletes and broadcasters -- basketball star Michael Jordan among them. "Talent agencies, ticketing companies, and independent promoters," notes the (New York) Daily News, "have complained that the new live entertainment giant exerts too much control over the industry." [FURMAN, 6-7-99, p. 57] In August 1999 SFX moved into Great Britain too, purchasing the Apollo Leisure Group (one of the largest theatre and arena operators in that country) for $254 million. The purchase also included Tickets Direct and the Barry Claymore Corporation. [FARMER, N., 8-21-99, p. 13]
In the dance world, Martha Graham was one of the icons of this art form 20th century. She wasn't Jewish. But in her early seventies her "right hand man" became Ron Protas, Jewish and in his twenties, who eventually positioned himself to inherit her entire estate at her death. As Ismene Brown notes
"When dance great Martha Graham died at the age of 96, she left him
[Protas] everything. It was the greatest legacy to dance this century.
Five years later Ron Protas stood as the only inheritor of the Graham
works, the Graham company, and the Graham industry. After reading
the section on Protas in the huge biography of Graham by her long-term
colleague and fellow choreographer Agnes de Mille (Rodeo, Oklahoma!);
it's hard not to expect to meet Svengali, Mephistopholes, and a leech
rolled into one. No one could have been more damned in print. He
caused a 'blood-letting,' 'policed' Graham, de Mille says; turned her
against old friends, made her into an elderly fool performing into
her seventies, and tainted a monumental career with sleazy celebrity
games. The object of this scorn (shared by many) is a shock to meet --
an amiably shambling, hunched-up man of 49, black curly hair,
chubby Jewish features, constantly wreathed in smiles, very disarming."
[BROWN, I., 10-16-96, p. 17]
Famed dancer Isadora Duncan's accompaniest was Max Rabinovitch. [ROBINSON, H., 1994, p. 91] Duncan's husband, Russian poet Seregei Yesenin, was once publicized as an "anti-Semite." "Not surprisingly," notes Harlow Robinson, "and probably with [Jewish impresario Sol] Hurok's help, the story of Yesenin's anti-Semitism immediately hit the newspapers, elaborately embroidered." [ROBINSON, M., 1994, p. 92] As Julia Foulkes declares about the Jewish angle to the modern dance world:
"Although the leaders of modern dance in the 1930s -- Martha Graham, Doris
Humphrey, Chalres Weidman, and Haya Holm -- were not Jewish, Jewish
women filled modern dance classes, companies, organizations, picket lines,
and concert audiences. Teachers, such as Blanche Talmud and Edith Segal,
taught performers, such as Lily Mehlman and Lillian Shapero; performances
by choreographers such as Anna Sokolow and Sophie Maslow, were reviewed
by critics, such as Edna Ocko; while organizers, such as Helen Tamiris and
Fanya Geltman, hassled labor unions and the federal government for increased
attention to dance. These efforts in substantiating a new art form have been
overlooked because our view of the arts tends to focus on a few stars,
emphasizing individual genius rather than collective momentum and organizational
drive. Jewish women shaped the foundation of modern dance, and in the mid-
1930s their impact was well enough known that the eminent social commentator
[and Jewish comedian] Fanny Brice could unleash her satire on the subject,
playing Martha Graham in a sketch entitled 'Modernistic Moe,' in which she
cried 'Rewolt!' in a Yiddish accent." [FOULKES, J., JUNE 2000, p. 233-252]
Even the best known mime in history, Marcel Marceau (originally Mangel), is Jewish. To his credit, he once told a Jewish ethnic newspaper: "I find it hard to identify with Jewish issues -- humanity is my ovrerriding battle cry." [JOSEPHS, J., 3-30-01] Performer Meredith Monk is also Jewish. [TWICE BLESSED, online gay/Jewish website]
Jewish influence in the visual arts is a huge story. "Modern art" (hereafter defined as painting, sculpture, and other visual arts) in capitalist society is a paradox. Its practitioners generally believe that their personal expressions of the human experience through physical objects are secularly sacred. Yet, to survive and prosper as artists, to garner the support to do further work that transcends mere consumerism, this belief itself must be fundamentally prostituted. "Fine art," notes anthropologist Stuart Plattner, "is similar to religion ... as an institution that counteracts the crassly commercial search for advancement in a capitalist art world. At the same time, these objects of supposedly sublime vision are bought and sold as commodities." [PLATTNER, p. 4]
The elitist "art world" strata -- so-called "High Art"-- is the milieu of painting provenances, artist pedigrees, and the changing "avante-garde" superstar brand-names. There are, strangely, no objective standards in this strata to discern quality or value in either the artist or his creations. Not only are there no clear standards of evaluation, "in the age of conceptual, minimal, and performance art, it is often unclear what museum quality art is supposed to look like." [PLATTNER, p. 5] The confirmation of artistic importance (and, hence, quality and value) is merely the decision of the "informed opinion" of High Art insiders, whose dictates are often self-rewarding. Such insiders include an incestuous cabal of professional art curators, critics, and dealers who swim back and forth among these occupational categories of art trade. (There are other entrees to the art community, of course. One of the most prominent art critics of the 1960s and 1970s was Harold Rosenberg who was trained as a lawyer and who became an influential "art critic" after a career in advertising. [JACOBY, p. 110] As Rosenberg himself once noted, "Since the rise of art history, in the nineteenth century, art historians have been directly linked with the market prices of paintings and sculptures because of their authority in deciding attributions. By the 1970s, art history, having achieved the leading role in the day-to-day life of art, had overgrown all its theoretical boundaries and gone to seed; it was now prepared to put the stamp of value on anything, not excluding publicized fakes." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 186]
While there is no clearly unifying and objective standard of art evaluation, there is a referential High Art history, the entwined tales of artists and wealthy business patrons who brought them to public attention and acclaim. There is also an art jargon, and meta-language "art talk" for those in the know.
As Duncan Cameron, once-director of the Brooklyn Museum, said in a speech to the United Nations:
"In summary, then, the traditional museum has been administered by a curatorial
elite whose members are trained as scholars in disciplines relevant to the museum
collections ... structured according to specific models of knowledge. These
models are generally incomprehensible to other than those trained in a
specific discipline and may be said to be encoded in the private languages
of scholarship ... This situation has persisted through the reluctance of the
public to protest it and the willingness of governing bodies to support it.
Both have been in awe of the mystique of curatorship, both have been
unprepared to admit that the content of the museum is meanignless and lacks
a personal relevance ... For a few, the upper-middle class with higher
education and therefore some key to the secret codes, it becomes a
domain with class and status connections." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 236-237]
"Art has become a commodity," notes Sophy Burnham, "Collectors bought art as profitable speculation. Museums bought what their trustees (these same collectors) demanded they immortalize. Critics pushed art in which they had financial interest ... The artist had no part in these exchanges. Once his work passed out of his hands ... he received no further royalties. He watched the prices rise and the dealers in art get fat ... Art was whatever would sell." [BURNHAM, p. 9]
"On the assumption that "he who pays the piper calls the tunes," says Judith Huggins-Balfe, "critics have accused both individuals and institutional private patrons of altering some presumably 'natural' development of art, in their own class and commercial interests." [BALFE, p. 314] Si Newhouse, for instance, (whom we have met before as chairman of the huge Advance media chain)," said dealer Leo Castelli, "is one who has put together a perfect choice of artists, starting out with Pollack and de Kooning." [WATSON, p. 104]
While trained "art professionals" are influential, the foundation of the modern art world is those who buy and sell it (sometimes these very art professionals). Such people decide what has value, and even what art is and is not. Most do not truly care about cutting edge perceptual insights or transcendent visions but, rather, money. Most buying and selling of art today, especially in the realm of High Art, is an economic investment. In 1984 major art journals, including ArtNews and Art and Antiques, even began publishing lists of major art collectors. 60% of the list were Americans. The next most populous were Japanese, then Germans. [WATSON, p. 388] (In more recent years, with Japanese economic woes, Japanese influence has correspondingly diminished and a significant percentage of today's "German" art activity we can safely presume to be Jewish).
The heart of the American (and international) High Art market is New York City. "Although Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and other centers have large demands [for art]," says Stuart Plattner, "New York is hegemonic on the national scale, and even the international level, meaning that only elite gallery exposure in New York creates art-historical significance." [PLATTNER, p. 8] New York City is also home for the most important art magazines and other periodicals whose sphere of reportage is usually its immediate vicinity. By 1973, some estimated that 75-80% of the 2500 core "art market' personnel -- art dealers, art curators, art critics, and art collectors -- were Jewish. [BURNHAM, p. 25] These people -- and their progeny -- in New York largely control American artistic tastes and values at the most important tier. (In 2001, according to ARTnews, at least eight of the "Top Ten" art collectors were Jewish: Debbie and Leon Black, Edythe and Eli Broad, Doris and Donald Fisher, Ronnie and Samuel Heyman, Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravitz, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and Stephen Wynn). [ESTEROW, M., SUMMER 2001]
When Alice Bellony-Rewald (an artist, critic, and art model) first moved into the New York art world from France, she noted that :
"I was plunged into a world of highly sophisticated Jewish art collectors,
and it took me a long time to reconcile my mental picture of speakeasies
and the Wild West with people who spoke five languages fluently and
lived surrounded by period furniture, Meissen china, and Old
Masters." [PEPPIATT, p. 16]
Jewish author Howard Jacobson wrote in 1993 about his experiences with prominent New York City art critic Peter Schjeldhal:
"'I came to New York to be Jewish,' [Schjeldhal] once told me.
'Did you make it?'
'What were you before?'
'And now? Since you haven't made it across as one of us?'
He paused. He wasn't sure he wanted to be that un-Jewish.
'A certain transformation has occurred; but a certain gulf
It takes me a little while to put it together -- the fact that just about
every gallery/space/loft we go into is run by a Jew. This isn't Jewish
how I like it. This is slow-drawl, camp Jewish, retreating, high-toned,
not very sense-of-humorish Jewish. The pallid women gallery-owners
whose walls and wine we absorb are also Jewish." [JACOBSON, H.,
1995, p. 84-85]
Famous Jewish novelist Judith Krantz notes in her biography her avenue into the upper tiers of the art world: "Polly Guggenheim, a sculptor who'd lived in Paris most of her life, became our guide into the art world." [KRANTZ, J., 2000, p. 324]
In 1996, Jewish art historian Eunice Lipton admitted that the main reason she went into a career as an art historian was to be in a field dominated by Jews:
"I wanted to be where Jews were -- that is, I wanted a profession that
would allow me tacitly to acknowledge my Jewishness through the
company I kept." [RUBIN- DURSKY, p. 289]
Elsewhere, she notes that:
"On the face of it, art history seemed a gentile profession. For one thing,
the study of Christian art was its center. In addition, there was an ancient
Jewish injunction against making graven images. But the fact is, the
field was filled with Jews. One might even say it was shaped by them.
Art history is characterized in this century by studies in connoisseurship,
formalist analysis, the study of iconography and iconology, and social
analyses. Jews have been prominent in all categories." [LIPTON, p. 285]
"Today," wrote Gerald Krefetz in 1982, "... Jews enjoy every phase of the art world: as artists, dealers, collectors, critics, curators, consultants, and patrons. In fact, the contemporary art scene has a strong Jewish flavor. In some circles, the wheelers and dealers are referred to as the Jewish mafia since they command power, prestige, and most of all, money." A few important members of the Jewish mafia in recent decades included dealers Leo Castelli, Ben Heller, and Larry Rubins (as well as Rubins' brother, William, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art), free lance art critic Clement Greenberg and Hilton Kramer (long time art critic for the New York Times, Henry Geldzahler (curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), among many others. "This group is a formidable power," noted Krafetz, "in forming tastes and promoting some schools of art to the exclusion of others." [KRAFETZ, p. 161]
The study of iconography and iconology [keys in modern art evaluation] says Eunice Lipton, was "developed by Erwin Panofsky and practiced by [other] Jewish scholars like Leo Steinberg, Irving Lavin, and Linda Seidel." [LIPTON, p. 286] Still other Jewish art scholars of prominence include Meyer Schapiro, Walter Friedlander, Robert Rosenblum, and Rosland Krauss, to begin a list just among those termed "formalist." Joseph Hodin was a prominent Jewish art scholar in Britain, as was the Viennese-born E. H. Gombrich, author of the internationally influential textbook in every art student's locker, The Story of Art. "The notion of Jewish culture," he curiously claims, "was an invention of Hitler." [SEARLE, p. T9]
Traditional Judaism has prohibited "graven images" and idolatry, and throughout most of history Jews were usually reluctant to engage in many types of activities western culture describes today as "art." "It is ... forbidden to draw the picture of a man," declares the Orthodox Code of Jewish Law, "even only the face of a man." [GANZFRIED, p. 53] "This is when [Jewish] religious law became all powerful," noted the prominent Jewish religious philosopher Martin Buber, "The human body is despicable. Seeing is a sin. Art is a sin ... Everything creative is smothered at its first appearance." [OLIN, p. 45] "To a non-Jewish reader," says Margaret Olin, "such judgments appear damning. Buber's readership, however, was Jewish, since his book appeared under Zionist auspices." [OLIN, p. 45]
In 1887, two French archaeologists, Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, reconstructed models of ancient Jewish temples and decided that Jews were the "least artistic of the greatest people of antiquity." [OLIN, p. 42] A year later a prominent German art historian, Wilhelm Lubke, declared that "Jews, having no artistic sensibility of their own, borrowed architectural forms on an eclectic principle from the nations dwelling around them." [OLIN, p. 42]
"[This] remark sounds innocent from a postmodern standpoint," says Margaret Olin, "but for Lubke to characterize Jews as a people who borrowed from others the art they could not create on their own lent a historical basis to the anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as chameleon-like parasites." [OLIN, p. 42]
Even the well-known Jewish turn-of-the-century art historian Bernard Berenson reiterated what Olin calls a recurrent anti-Semitic theme. "The Jews," said Berenson, "like their Ishamaelite cousins the Arabs, and indeed perhaps like all pure Semites (if such there be), have displayed little talent for the visual, and almost none for the figure arts." [OLIN, p. 49]
But, although there was "absent a Jewish visual tradition prior to this century," [FREUDENHEIM, p. 9] there was nothing to prevent them from engaging in the market place of it. Even "in the avant-garde circles of the twenties, thirties, and forties," notes Nathan Glazer and Patrick Moynihan, "Jews were very often the critics (and entrepreneurs), non-Jews the creators. This was so in literature, painting, music, and the theatre." [GLAZER/MOYNIHAN, p. 173]
"In the broad spectrum of Judeo-Christianity, one group, often figured as Jewish," says Marc Shell, "is relatively comfortable with money and uncomfortable with representational art, while one group, frequently reckoned as Christianity, is relatively comfortable with art and uncomfortable with money. It is, according to this stereopticon, the essence of Judaism to reject representational art and the essence of Christians to expel changing coins from the temple." [SHELL, p. 7]
There is, as we have repeatedly seen, little sacrosanct in Jewish religious tradition that prohibits money-making; certainly the exploitation of objects of human expression would fall within the marketable sphere. The merger of money and art as a single consumer commodity, the whole art world as a field for exploitation, and the profanation of modern art that is regarded as illusorily -- yet secularly -- "sacred," has in our own day been profoundly effected by Jewish influence. Norman Cantor, for example, notes that:
"A member of the Warburg banking family single-handedly started up
the field of art history ... [CANTOR, p. 271] ... All the art history
departments in the world are direct descendants of Aby Warburg's
Institute (moved from to London in 1932 to escape the Nazis) and his
great Jewish disciple, Erwin Panofsky. Is it anomalous that a Jew would
have been so creative in the study of art that was so little cultivated in
Jewish tradition? All the more that a liberated white Jew should pursue
art history. But one can see a Judaizing tendency in Warburg's method
of art historical criticism. The picture is studied for its 'iconology,' its
pattern of ideas illustrating textual passages. Art is thereby approached
in hermeneutic fashion, again recalling Talmudic exegesis, rather than for
its aesthetic content. Yet the most significant aspect of Warburg's
development in art history is the demonstration that market capitalism
could embrace and fund a purely cultural and academic operation. The
distinct equality of capital was not its materialism, but its liquidity, the
fungible capacity of capital to transform into any commodity, including
art and humanities literature that represents a dynamic power in society.
Aby Warburg's historical and critical mastery of art was structurally the
same as his brother's mastery in their international bank of money and
its investment potential. The transformative interaction between art and
capital is central to the nature of the market economy." [CANTOR, p.
(As Jewish scholar George Mosse notes about the Warburg art circle: "Erwin Panofsky, one of the Warburg library's most famous collaborators [was] like almost all of its early collaborators a Jew ... [Ernst Cassierer was] the Warburg library's most prolific author.") [MOSSE, G., 1985, p. 53]
"Jews may or may not have become more culture conscious," suggests Gerald Krefetz, "but they certainly were among the first to realize that modern art is not a bad investment ... [Some Jews saw] in modern art one of the most lucrative ways to duplicate money since the invention of compound interest." [KREFETZ, p. 146] "The linkage of art and commercial gain," notes Alfred Lindemann, "became more important in the United States than in any other country in history." [LINDEMANN, p. 207] (Coincidence that Jewish administrator Lee Caplin "created and directed the Federal Program 'The Business of Art and the Artist' while serving as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts?") [CAPLIN, L., 1989, p. ix] "Some dealers are commodity brokers, not selling pork bellies or soybean futures, but work by recognized artists, mostly dead," says Krafetz, "They buy and sell their works as they would any other product ... They are basically brother traders." [KRAFETZ, p. 147]
A good example of such attitudes of quite literally "brother traders" can be found in a 1994 article in ARTnews that profiles three Jewish art investors -- brothers Joseph, David, and Ezra Nahmad, heirs to a Syrian banking fortune. "Secretive and elusive," reporter Andrew Decker also observes that the brothers "are among the richest art traders in the world. They are also among the least known ... They have one of the largest stockpiles of art in the world ... The inventory ... consists of about 1,000 paintings that usually sit untouched in a warehouse ... [DECKER, p. 116] ... According to several sources, Joseph's greatest interests are money, art, and women, roughly in that order." [DECKER, p. 119] Joseph has been convicted in France for currency violations; in Italy he was jailed for having 25,000 stolen British pounds in his possession. He was also investigated in Italy for income tax evasion, owing over $13 million. In 1973 the Nahmad brothers were found to be in the possession of Giacometti bronzes that had been stolen eight years earlier.
In Israel, the hundreds of thousands of Jews flooding into Israel in recent years have brought with them art treasures from Russia, particularly old Russian Orthodox Christian icons. They are sold in Israel to dealers, collectors, or tourists for anywhere from $500 to $30,000. Their values can range from $500 to $2.5 million; the best quality pieces are sent from Israel to Europe or America for higher price resale. "Taking them out of the Soviet Union -- or its successor independent republics," notes the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "is illegal. But the immigrants take the risk, often bribing custom officials to look the other way." [SALOME, p. A6]
In 1995 Dmitri Yakubovsky, once kicked out of Russian military school for what he decried as anti-Semitism, and later owner of a $5.3 mansion in suburban Toronto, had a new home. It was "a decrepit Russian prison cell in St. Petersburg's Kresty Detention Center. He was arrested in Moscow last December and is charged with complicity in the theft of a historic $130-million collection of rare far Eastern and antique European manuscripts from the Russian National Library." [GOLD, J., p. 37] The police laid a trap for Yakubovsky, "his arrest followed immediately, and the net expanded to Israel, where a group of Israelis were arrested." [WARD, p. B6]
A venerable Israeli "Holocaust museum" has even been involved in international art smuggling from the former Soviet Union. In 2001, the Associated Press noted that
"In a secret operation, Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial has
smuggled out of Ukraine fragements of murals by Polish-Jewish artist Bruno
Schulz, sparking an international controversy. Yad Vashem maintains it
was merely exercising its right to preserve the works of a prominent
Jewish writer, artist and Holocaust victim, but Ukrainian and Polish
officials say their removal was a crime." [SHARGORODKY, S., 6-20-01]
In such an international art sphere, in 1995 ARTnews published a piece about the man who "is spending more freely than any other collector in history," an Iranian-born Jew, now an American citizen living in Great Britain, Nasser Khalili. His personal collection of Islamic art alone is insured for $1.5 billion. Khalili spent $7.5 million just to publish a thirty volume catalogue of the Islamic works he owns. Among other genres of his 27,000 art objects is a Japanese art collection worth as much as $100 million, Russian enamels and Faberge, ancient Mesopotamian pottery figures, 19th-century Spanish metalwork, Swedish bridal tapestries (1750-1850), Indian woven silks (1200-1500), and 16 of 50 pre-16th century silks "all in Tibetan monasteries until the 1980s." [NORMAN, p. 120] An early Jewish-Iranian adviser to Khalili was Mehdi Mahboubian "who was the most important of the group of Jewish Iranian art dealers in Tehran in the 1970s and acted as a personal adviser to the shah and shahbanu [the shah's wife]." [NORMAN, p. 120]
Rabbi Alan Lew notes the curiously incongruous expressions of Zen master/art dealer "Rudrananda":
[There was] a guru named Rudrananda, or, as he was known, Rudi. Rudi's
real name was Albert Rudolph. He was a Jewish guy who grew up in Brooklyn
... [LEW, A., 1999, p. 51] [He had] a large store ... where all of Rudi's students
lived. The store was lined with tonkas, Tibetan tapestries, and priceless Buddhas.
Some of them were very large, over six feet tall, and all of them were
exquisite. Rudi had stood at the Indian border when the Tibetans were fleeing
the Chinese, buying all their priceless Buddhas and art treasures. Now he
was an art dealer, selling his treasures to museums and extremely wealthy
people. I had to wait a long time while he obsequiously waited on museum
representative and millionaires, periodically going to the back of the store
where one or two of his students were meditating on him. He would put his
hand on their heads and somehow transmit energy to them, and they would
go into convulsions. Other students were coming to see him for consultations.
It was as if Rudi was giving off electricity. The more advanced the students
were, the more electrified they would become until they were trembling, all
in the midst of high-powered transactions over statuary. The millionaires who
came to buy art objects seemed totally oblivious to everything that was going
on and never got jolted. It was in the midst of all this that Rudi told me I
should drop everything and come study with him, that he would make me
rich, and that I would get laid all the time. 'You should have seen the knockers
on the woman I was just with in Boston,' he said." [LEW, A., 1999, p. 54-55]
In Switzerland, Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher own "one of the world's greatest accumulations of modern art." [GREEN, D., p. 37] 139 works by 77 artists were exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 1998. In Los Angeles, "in the early 1990s," notes Tom King,
"with his purchased of David Hockney's Double Portrait, [Jewish Hollywood mogul David] Geffen began a buying spree that soon made the art world take
note. He built a collection of modern masterpieces that, for the artists and periods
he favored, was unparalleled, including many of the most valuable works by Jackson
Pollock and Jasper Johns. [KING, T., 2000, p. 477]
In England, Jewish advertising mogul Charles Saatchi and his wife "have built a collection of modern art that is regarded today as perhaps the most important of its kind in the world in private hands," largely concentrating on "American minimalists." [FALLON, p. 325] By the 1980s Saatchi was spending $1 million a year on new art acquisitions. Among his interests was a "heavy investment in the art of [Jewish painter] Julian Schnabel." [GLUECK, p. 2, p. 27] Norman Rosenthal of the British Royal Academy suggested that "the Saatchis are probably the most important collectors of modern art in anywhere in the world." [FALLON, p. 335] Political artist Hans Haacke once held an exhibition (called "Taking Stock") "which was an attack on the Saatchis, their advertising empire, and on Mrs. Thatcher [the British Prime Minister who was built to power with the help of Saatchi advertising]." [FALLON, p. 334]
Kevin Goldman even suggests that:
"Advertising is an industry in which the amount of money to be made
rivals the fortunes made by investment bankers and robber barons.
Indeed, one [advertising] man, Charles Saatchi, made so much money
in advertising that he was able to control the world's contemporary art
market." [GOLDMAN, p. 21]
"The Saatchi Collection," says Alison Fendley, "has been a focus of debate in the world of contemporary art since it opened to the public in 1985. Little is known about the inner workings of the Saatchi Gallery; even today, its finances are mysterious." [FENDLEY, p. 6]
Looking for an ikat, "a rare textile from Uzbekistan?" Try Guido Goldman, who in the last twenty years has amassed the largest private ikat collection from Central Asia in the world. (Goldman's father, Nachum, was the "President of the World Jewish Congress and key player in a host of other Jewish organizations.") [CEMBALEST, HOW, p. 11] )
Suits of armor? Medieval artifacts? Judaica? Barry Trupin "owned one of the largest private collections of Judaica in America, as well as a world-renowned collection of medieval artifacts and suits of armor. His pride and joy was a suit of armor from Hever Castle in England that had belonged to Henry II. Trupin wanted to own the armor so passionately that he paid $3.2 million for it at auction, outbidding both the Tower of London and the Louvre." [GAINES, S., 1998, p. 231]
How about the works of French poet, artist, and filmmaker Jean Cocteau? In 1995 Jewish business mogul Severin Wunderman shut down his "Severin Wunderman Museum" in southern California and donated "the world's largest collection of works" by Cocteau to the University of Texas. Wunderman planned to move to France to live in his restored 15th century castle. [HOWLETT, p. E1] The works of artist Andrew Wyeth? In the 1980s, Hollywood producer Joseph E. Levine sold the world's largest collection of Wyeth paintings. [ARONSON, S., 1983, p. 187]
Jewish TV personality Allen Funt (of Candid Camera fame) began buying relatively cheap paintings by artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) to "decorate his apartment." Ruskin had once described Alma-Tadema as "the worse painter of the nineteenth century." "Funt," says Karl Meyer, "proceeded to acquire more and more of the artist's work; soon enough, publicity being what it is, there were newspaper features describing his hobby, and Funt had become the unlikely agent of Alma-Tadema's rehabilitation." After the Metropolitan Museum put on a show of Funt's collection, Funt sold it all ("In all fairness," says Karl Meyer, "he needed the money since he had recently been defrauded of $1,200,000 in Candid Camera profits by his longtime accountant, who later committed suicide.") [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 184-185]
Native American art? In 1998 Stanley Marcus, chairman emeritus of the Neiman Marcus luxury store, put his American Indian art collection up for auction at Sotheby's. In charge of the sale was Ellen Taubman, the head of Sotheby's Indian art department for 25 years, and the daughter of Sotheby's board chairman, Jewish real estate mogul Alfred Taubman. Picasso? In 1998, Victor and Sally Ganz put up for auction their art stash, including "the most important privately-held collection of works by Picasso in America." Expected sales figures ranged from $125 million to half a billion dollars. [HANDWERKER, 11-10-97] (Picasso's first art "contract" was signed with prominent Jewish dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1912). [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 168] In 1999, an auction of art (returned after confiscation by the Nazis decades ago) netted the Rothschild family $90 million.
Art from Germany? Going to auction in 2000, Marvin and Janet Fishman's properties were worth an estimated $16 million. It was "a collection of some 160 works, one of the most comprehensive groups of early 20th century German art ever to be formed in private hands." [RONNER, M., 7-30-2000, p. 16]
Anything else? Jewish dealer Ronnie Darvick has, over the years, even sold the gun that killed Lee Harvey Oswald (for $220,000), Marilyn Monroe's certificate of conversion to Judaism when she married Jewish playwright Arthur Miller in 1956, the writings of mass murderer Charles Manson, and Adolf Hitler's autograph. "My mother had her whole family wiped out in Poland," says Darvick, "Her attitude was, he'd be turning over in his grave if he knew a Jew was making money off his autograph." [THOMAS, p.G8]
In 1981 Charles Hamilton, an art and documents dealer, wrote about his auction world experiences:
"In November, 1975, I put up at auction several unusual Nazi items, one of
which instantly captivated the press. It was an ornate, gold-plated license plate
used on Hitler's parade limousine. He'd presented it to his mistress, Eva Braun,
because she was intrigued by flashy beauty. The plate was made of heavy brass
plated in gleaming gold. There was an emobssed swastika in the upper left and
a Nazi eagle in the upper right. The plate bore the legend: 'Reichskanzler -- Deutschland.'
Not more than two doors away from the Conrad Suite at the Waldorf-Astoria where
I was holding the sale of Hitler's license plate, there was by chance a meeting of the
B'nai B'rith, an assemblage of pensive graybeards wearing yarmulkes. A television reporter perceived the anomaly.
'May I borrow that license plate for a few minutes?' he asked.
'Of course,' I said.
I followed him and his television crew into the B'nai B'rith conference. The
reporter selected an old man who looked as though he might have suffered the
brutalities of a concentration camp.
'Sir,' he said, 'Mr. Hamilton, the autograph dealer, is auctioning off, just down
the hall, this license plate from Hitler's limousine. May I have your opinion of the sale?'
'Disgusting! I cannot believe that anyone would sell or buy such a revolting object.'
The reporter asked the same question of three or four other elderly members of the assemblage. The answers were all vehement denunciations of me and my auction.
After the license plate was sold for $3,500 to a Jewish dealer, the reporter asked me what I thought of the sale." [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p. p. 180-181]
Elsewhere, Hamilton notes another such story:
"In the fall of 1979 a young man, who introduced himself as Aaron Goldberg, brought
me for auction a small shief of unused stationery imprinted with Hitler's name and address.
'I take it your father brought these back from Germany after the war,' I said, recognizing the paper as that often used by Hitler in writing to lower army echelons.
'No,' he explained. 'My father was too old for the army. He owned a printing shop
in Brooklyn. Two or three years before we got into the war, he was asked by the Nazi embassy in New York to print some official stationery for Hitler. It was tough at that
time to get any sort of work and although Jewish, my father took the job. I found
these sheets in the back of the shop.'" [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p.182]
In England, in 1989 a Jewish entrepreneur, Andrew Benjamin, was evicted by his Jewish landlord when it was discovered that Benjamin's rented space was a store called "Cutdown," which was "selling Nazi clothing and medals, as well as racist records, literature, and videos." [HOROWITZ, D.] (Conversely, in a Jewish censorial action against an Internet provider, France's International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Student Union went to court in Europe to seek to ban an on-line Yahoo Internet auction of Nazi memorabilia. "Is Yahoo expected," complained the company, "to check who is on-line and comply with the laws of every other country?") [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 5-16-2000]
Jewish activism to stop the sale of Nazi memorabilia is odd considering the vast experience of art and documents dealer Charles Hamilton in the selling of Nazi items:
"In the past twenty years I've sold at auction thousands of Nazi relics and
documents. And nearly always such sales have evoked criticism, harrowing
experiences, or even threats on my life ... Today the big threat to me is not
from bombs [Hamilton once had a bomb threat for having a Hitler photo for
sale in his gallery window] but from collectors who are stampeding me and
other autograph dealers in their frenzy to stock up on letters and documents
of Hitler and his henchmen before the price goes through the roof. A letter of
Hitler's is now worth five of Churchill's and ten of Franklin D. Roosevelt's.
Who's in the Third Reich rat race? The Germans are buying. The British are
buying. But most of all it's Jewish collectors in America. They bid with aliases
or anagrams, from behind pillars or half-closed doors, or signal the auctioneer
furtively. Their names are top secret.
Is it just the fascination of evil and violence? Maybe. But as one Jewish collector explained to me: 'It's like having the head of the hunter on the wall instead of the
hunted.'" [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p. 172, 174]
"One of the outstanding Nazi collections in America was formed by the late
Philip D. Sang, whose collection of Judaica I recently appraised for presentation
to Brandeis University. I helped Sang to build his superb assemblage of Jewish
letters and documents and I helped him to gather his huge and important Nazi
collection. Among the historic items that came from my sales were the Nazi
top-secret plan for the invasion of Holland and Belgium and Mussolini's own
copy of Nietzche's Man and Superman, annotated with Il Duce's own ideas for implementing the philosphers's vision.
Another Nazi collector, famed for his physical education courses, once told me
that his entire family was wiped out in an Austrian concentration camp during the Holocaust. Yet I never met any man so enthralled with the Nazis, especially the
more brutal of them. He liked to ensconce his villains in spectacular frames. I
once put together for him an 'ensemble' of Hitler and Goering, with examples of
some of the medals worn by the Fuehrer and his pompous air marshall. As my
customer stood admiring the finished product, glittering with medals, he commented
on my 'superb job' and I couldn't refrain from asking: 'What are you going to do with it?'
'Why,' he said, 'I'm going to hang it in my living room.'
I couldn't think of any reply except: 'Not the place I'd pick to hang Hitler and
Goering.'" [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p. p. 172, 174]
In Miami, among other business projects, Jack Sugarman, "prominent auctioneer" and owner of Jack Sugarman Auctioneers, once organized an auction of paperweights owned by Oscar Schindler (of "Schindler's List" fame). In 2000, Sugarman went to prison for embezzlement of funds from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4-18-2000] Then there is "Chicago collector" Million [Is this the Jewish source magazine's typographical error?] Kohn, who has amassed 700 Holocaust-related artifacts, including "a list of people scheduled for extermination on July 5, 1943," "a stuffed pillow with human hair, a bar of soap made from human body fat, and a patch of skin bearing a tattoo." He has exhibited his collection in 14 countries. [LUM, R., 11-19-99, p. 3A]
The man, Jack Ruby, who killed Lee Harvey Oswald was Jewish. So was Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed President J.F. Kennedy being shot in Dallas. Zapruder sold the original 8mm film to Time magazine for $150,000. "Concerned that a Jewish man's profiting from the assassination could touch off a wave of anti-Semitism," notes Washington Post reporter George Lardner Jr., "his lawyer suggested that he donate the first $25,000 to a fund for a Dallas police officer killed that day, J. D. Tippett. Zapruder readily agreed." [LARDNER, G., 1998, p. A11] Zapruder died in 1970.
Inexplicably, the film was returned to Zapruder's heirs in 1975 by Time Inc. Over the years, the Zapruder family (one of Abraham's sons is a Washington DC lawyer) has been known to charge outlandish fees for the use of the assassination footage. Two independent filmmakers who were told that permission to reproduce the footage in their own movie would cost $30,000, successfully sued the Zapruders to use the historical material. [MARGOLICK, D., 1988, p. B20] In 1997, the U.S. government appropriated the original movie film (it was already in storage, at the Zapruders' request, at the National Archives.) The Justice Department went to arbitration with the Zapruder family to decide "just compensation" for the 26 seconds of footage. The government offered $3 million; the family asked for $30 million. Three Justice Department judges eventually decided (2-1) to give the family $16 million. (Kenneth Feinberg and Arlin Adams voted yes, and Walter Dellinger no -- he suggested $3-5 million as a fair market value). Incredibly, the Zapruders' also retained copyright -- any reproduction of the film would be subject to a fee to the family. [REICHMAN, D., 8-3-99]
As the Quincy Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts) editorialized:
"You and I [taxpayers] get the bill and the government gets to keep the
original footage. Besides the $16 million, the Zapruder heirs retain the
copyright, so they can sell the footage another 16 million times ... The
family compared its treasure to a Van Gogh painting." [QUINCY, p. 12]
(Even the man who painted John F. Kennedy and his wife "for their White House portraits" was Aaron Shikler, also Jewish. [Jacqueline Onassis] also notes in her biography "David Levine, the now-legendary caricaturist.") [KRANTZ, J., 2000, p. 208]
Elsewhere, Stanley Slotkin, the Jewish founder of the Abbey Rents company, once bought a pile of rocks dug from a tunnel next to Christianity's traditional Jesus nativity site (in Bethlehem) in the 1960s; in more recent years his descendants set the souvenir stones in jewelry frames and are marketing them in TV commercials (featuring actor Ricardo Montalban) as "nativity stones," selling for as high as $395 apiece. [DART, J., p. B1]
Of course Jews are active in the specifically Jewish art market too. Wilbur Wendell Pierce (originally: Wilbur Persofsky), for instance, even has "an international reputation for his collection of concentration camp currency, which he amassed during the past five years [1991-96]." [BIBERMAN, p. 69]
In the field of archeological swindles, Moses Shapira was the pioneer in the field. "Shapira," notes Israeli art curator Irit Salmon, "was the first to recognize that archeology could be a profitable business." Shapira, a Russian Jewish transplant to Jerusalem, sold a variety of fake archaeological artifacts in the late 1800s, including recently manufactured items he misrepresented to major European museums. "His exposure as a fraud in 1884," notes Shoshana Sappir, "led to his suicide a few months earlier." [SAPPIR, S., 7-31-2000] In Great Britain, famed Jewish swindler Adam Worth was behind the theft in 1876 of Thomas Gainsborough's painting of the Duchess of Devonshire, which only a few weeks earlier "had been sold at auction for 10,000 guineas, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work of art, causing a sensation." [MacIntyre, B., 1997, p. 3]
Stephen Nohlgren notes the illustrious art fraud history of Elmyr de Hory:
"While foraging at one garage sale, I paid a few bucks for a book called
FAKE! [full title: FAKE! The Story of Elymyr de Hory, the Greatest Art
Forger of Our Times, by Clifford Irving], a biography of Elmyr de Hory,
perhaps the greateest art forger of all time. De Hory was a Jewish Hungarian
aristocrat and would-be artist who lived in Paris in the 1920s ... During
World War II, De Hory's parent's were killed and the family riches
confiscate. He was stranded in Paris with no allowance -- but an undiminished
taste for high living ... [He] launched a 20-year forgery career. Never
successful with his own work. De Hory cranked out a prodigious body
of fakery. He could mimic almost all of his old acquaintances. To sell his
fakes, he'd drop hints that his father had amased a private collection in
the 1930s that was later smuggled out of Hungary. He sold to art dealers
and museums. His work started showing up in art books as originals. He
forged so many Dufys that an expert once rejected two real Dufy's as
fraudulent because he mistakenly assumed that De Hory's hand and style
were the correct ones. He was finally caught in 1967 and spent a few months
in a Spanish jail." [NOHLGREN, S., 7-16-00]
Auction gallery owner Charles Hamilton notes another Jewish con-man:
"The ability to bilk one's clients at auction is a fine art, make no mistake
about it. To succeed for a lifetime without detection or exposure, the auction-
buying crook must have the cunning of a polecat, the ethics of a
Gabon viper, and the acquisitive drive of a dung-beetle. All these
feral qualities were uniquely fused in the late Lew David Feldman,
a rare book and manuscript dealer who opeated under a firm name
devised from his cutely bastardized initials -- The House of El
Dieff." [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p. 19]
More recently, in 1987, the Jewish Week ran an article with a headline declaring "Israeli Art World Stunned By Forgery Allegations." Ten Israelis were eventually arrested in the scam, including gallery owners and art dealers. "80 high quality fakes" of prominent Israeli artists were discovered in the ring, as well as stolen art from important artist Eliahu Gat. [JW, 4-7-87, 4-10-87]
In the United States, in 1982 the state of New York created a law, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council, which sought to undermine the busy market in stolen Torah scrolls ("150 .... in recent years in New York alone"). Much of the Torah market theft was attributed to a "Brooklyn-based Russian Jewish crime ring." [KALMANOFSKY, p. 58] In the new system, documentation of the previous scroll owner would henceforth be necessary for any sales transaction. [GALLOB] Although a Sefer-Torah "is the holiest object in the Jewish religion," a Manhattan Judaica dealer, Herbie Stavsky, noted that "as long as people like money, there will always be someone who will steal it. Goes to show you that nothing's sacred. Anything for the almighty dollar." [KALMANOFSKY, p. 55]
As evidenced with stolen Torah pages, a growing realm of corruption is the business of buying and selling Jewish antiquities. In 1990 the Jewish Week noted recent criminal cases including the $60,000 forgery of a 15th century haggadah by an Italian Jew, an antique Hungarian book of Psalms that "was stolen only to appear at an Israeli auction," and a Hassidic art dealer, Chaim Schneilbalg, who was murdered in a Jerusalem hotel while meeting an art client. A suspect was an Israeli living in West Germany who was "reportedly involved in counterfeiting, the running of brothels, and a previous insurance claim of dubious validity." Schneilbalg, reported the Jewish Week, "was said to have been jockeying for control of the market in Jewish manuscripts suddenly available in newly capitalist Eastern Europe." [MARK, J, p. 31]
In an overview of the growing art market for Jewish artifacts, Jonathan Mark in Jewish Week noted that
"Ignorance and fraud were creating such havoc that in the last twenty
years Judaica buyers and sellers increasingly turned to non-Jewish auction
houses to protect themselves from each other ... With many American
Jews experiencing a rise in their discretionary incomes in the 1970s and
80s, more began buying and selling Judaica as an investment or hobby. It
was often used for Jewish fund raising ... But even in auction houses ...
certain dealers were known to work in collusion ... The recent fascination
with the Holocaust has inflated the market even further. Purchasing an item
that was desecrated by the Nazis was considered to be very chic
'mitzvah.'" [MARK, J, p. 31]
By 2000, not much had changed. "Synagogues across Europe are being robbed of treasures worth hundreds of thousands of dollars," noted the Jerusalem Report. Highly suspect were "two Israeli con artists" who continued to reappear at synagogues, particularly in the Netherlands. [LEVY, R., 2-14-2000] In 2001, Israeli police arrested Yerahmiel Hershler, Aharon Stefansky and Amnon Edri in the Jewish state with stolen religious artifacts from synagogues from "Britain, Gibraltar and a number of European countries" worth "at least $2 million ... A fourth suspect was arrested in northern Israel. A police spokesperson said additional arrests were expected." HAAS, D., 3-2-01, p. 2]
Entrepreneurial Jews have been especially active in the European "art scene" since Emancipation in the 1800s. "By the opening of the late 19th century," says Howard Sachar, "Jewish [art] salons in Berlin were well established as the center of German social life ... Writers, artists, intellectuals and viveurs all found good food and even better conversation at the gatherings." [SACHAR, p. 150] (Much earlier, the wealthy Amsterdam Jewish community often paid for their depiction by the great painter Rembrandt. [37 of his 200 male portraits are of Jews. "When Rembrandt fell on hard times in his later years and became bankrupt," says M. H. Goldberg, "he was given both spiritual and material help by a rabbi.") [GOLDBERG, M. H., 1976, p. 122]
There were also the likes of Jacques-Louis David:
"Realizing the propaganda potential of art and eager to assert France's
primacy in all fields of culture, Napoleon reshaped the academy into a
superb machine for the production of art. Jacques-Louis David, a former
member of the Royal Academy and an ardent Bonapartist, was one of
the governing elite who spurred artists to glorify France in painting classical
themes or the battles and heroes of the day." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 170]
Jews have been particularly preeminent in the economic exploitation of art and the formation of its commercial value since the rise of "modern art" in the 1880s. In that era the center of the art world was Paris. "[There were] two groups of important art dealers in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century," notes Peter Watson, " ... one was made up of [Daniel-Henri] Kahnweiler, Paul Guillaume, Felix Feneon, and the Rosenbergs [Leonce and Paul], dealers in contemporary works .... The other was an equally tight-knit but smaller group of dealers who formed the elite secondary markets dealing with Old Masters ... and increasingly in the Impressionists. At the center of this group were [Nathan] Wildenstein, [Rene] Gimpel, and [Jacques] Seligmann. Loosely attached to them were three other dealers in London and New York, [Samson] Wertheimer and [Roland] Knoedler [later run by Charles Henschel until after World War II]." [WATSON, p. 219-220] "[Paul] Rosenberg's strait-forward approach and steep prices shocked Parisian art circles and made him the subject of savage criticism." He even once said, "As for me, a painting is beautiful when it sells." [FELICIANO, p. 54] Among those in Rosenberg's art stable was Picasso, formerly signed to David-Henry Kahnweiler and Rosenberg's brother Leon. All these people were Jewish.
Further, "one of the oldest art dynasties in France" was founded by Alexandre Bernheim [FELICIANO, p. 75] and David David-Weiss, a prominent art collector, became the President of the Board of Directors of the French National Museum in 1933. Across the border, Max Friedlander, "one of the leading experts on Rembrandt," directed the Berlin Museum in the same era. [EPSTEIN, 1996, p 290]
Disgruntled with such Jewish control of the art market, in 1915 a lecturer, Tony Tollett, delivered an address to the French Academy of Sciences, Literature, and Arts in Lyon entitled: "On the Influence of the Jewish-German Corporation of Paris Art Dealers on French Art." [WATSON, p. 190] By 1930, notes Pierre Assouline, "according to dealer Pierre Loeb, during this period four art dealers out of five were Jewish, as were four out of five art collectors ... Wilhelm Uhde who had made the same observations, added art critics to the list." [ASSOULINE, p. 230] After the Nazi's takeover of France, notes Hector Feliciano, "deploring the lack of experts available to advise German clients, a number of the Nazi information services in Paris explained that this was because most of the premiere art experts had been Jews. Since the 1920s, they had contributed to the development and maintenance of a worldwide network of wealthy art buyers. This network collapsed as soon as they were denied a role in Europe's largest art market." [FELICIANO, p. 124]
Nachum Gidal notes that in Germany, James Simon "made a gift of his world famous collection of Italian renaissance paintings, sculptures, medallions, and bronze" to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin, "on whose governing board he sat." [GIDAL, p. 348] Other prominent German Jewish collections included those of Marcus Koppel, Franz and Rober von Medelssohn, Alfred Beit, Oscar Huldschinsky, Eduard Arnhold, Leopold Sonnemann, H. H. Meyer, and Philip Rothschild, among others. "The greatest collection of German 19th century painters," continued Gidal, "belonged to Max Bohm and Rudolf Mosse; the greatest collection of Old Master drawings was assembled by Paul Davidson." [GIDAL, p. 348] Among the major Jewish German art dealers were Alfred Flechtheim, Herwath Walden, and Paul Cassirer in Berlin, and Bernheim & Heinemann in Munich.
Many Jewish art dealers grew to be extraordinarily successful. In 1909 Jacques Seligman "astounded Paris by acquiring the Palais de Sagan, an even more luxurious house ... Seligman was the main [art] supplier for the French Rothschilds as well as [J. D.] Morgan; he was also known for his contacts in Russia ... " [WATSON, p. 224] "Possibly the most successful, and certainly, the most secretive [art dealer] was [Nathan] Wildenstein," says Peter Watson, " ... Another reason for Wildenstein's success was his close association with Duveen and Gimpel, which made each others businesses truly international." [WATSON, p. 220-221]
"Georges Wildenstein," notes Hector Feliciano, "was very well known and actively involved in art circles in a number of countries, including those within the Nazi sphere of influence. Even after the French armistice and the German occupation, Wildenstein seems to have taken advantage of this network to organize a number of deals with the Germans." [FELICIANO, H., p. 61] Feliciano was actually sued for such statements about Wildenstein and the Nazis by the art dealer's heirs in the 1990s. Feliciano counter sued, and with relevant historical evidence, won the case.
"Notoriously dishonest," [WATSON, p. 166] Joseph Duveen was another prominent Jewish art dealer in the early decades of the 1900s, "the most successful art broker of the twentieth century, this trade -- thanks to his undoubted charisma and his gift for salesmanship, laced with lavish doses of corruption." [SIMPSON, ARTFUL, p. 1] Upon his move from Europe to New York City, Duveen was charged (in a legal "case that attracted enormous publicity") with evading customs duties of -- at today's values -- $102 million. Connections with several United States Senators and other men of influence helped Duveen evade the law. [WATSON, p. 166]
Duveen had a long -- and secret -- association with the very prominent and influential Jewish art connoisseur, critic, and esthete, Bernard Berenson. Berenson (whose original name was Bernhard Valvrojenski), an expert on Christian art, converted to Protestantism and then Catholicism, but noted in his diary,” At times I seem to myself to be a typical 'Talmud Jew.'" He also wrote that he longed to drop "the mask of being goyim and return to Yiddish reminiscences ..." [RUBIN, p. 75] In 1944, Berenson wrote a piece called, "Open Letter to American Jewry." In it, notes Barry Rubin, "Berenson warned that envious Christians would persecute them, 'even if you were innocent as the angels ... and you are far from that.'" [RUBIN, p. 76]
For his less than innocent part, Berenson regularly colluded with Duveen over a twenty-five year period in perpetuating continuous fraud and deceit upon unsuspecting art collectors. "Berenson was a genius," writes Colin Simpson, "who early in life channeled his gifts into the study of that finest flower of Christian art: Italian Renaissance painting. By the age of 35 he had become the world's leading authority ... The curators of many of world's greatest museum's were either his former pupils or his disciples ... They came to hear his opinions, take his advice, and pay homage to his scholarship and his intellectual integrity. A small minority saw him as a disgustingly rich, opinionated, spiteful tyrant ... But only a handful were aware that it was Berenson, not Duveen, who was probably the most successful and unscrupulous art dealer the world has ever seen." [SIMPSON, ARTFUL, p. 1]
"The raw truth about both men," notes Peter Watson, "... is... complex and considerably ... sordid." [WATSON, p. 167] For his part, from 1911 to 1937 Berenson's hidden association with Duveen netted him alone the equivalent -- in our day -- of $150 million. [SIMPSON, ARTFUL, p. 2] "Berenson,' notes Eunice Lipton, "shaped the very terrain of Renaissance studies, not to mention the market for what became its masterpieces." [LIPTON, p. 285]
Another of Berenson's Jewish contemporaries who had a strong hand in shaping American art history was Paul Sachs. "Though not as widely known as Berenson," notes George Goodman, "Paul Joseph Sachs, too, had a patriarchal influence in the world of art museums -- in America and abroad. Unlike Berenson, however, Sachs was born to privilege." [GOODMAN, #2, p.2, p. 54] Sachs' father and uncle founded the prominent Goldman, Sachs New York investment firm. Paul Sachs, an Associate Director of Harvard's Fogg Museum and chairman of that college's Fine Arts Department, aided a number of Jewish art scholar protégés, including James Rorimer (eventual Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)." "Two other Jewish protégés," notes Goodman, "happened to be Sach's relatives" -- Charles Kuhn and James Sachs Plaut (eventual head of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art). [GOODMAN, #2, p. 57] Yet another Sachs relative, Samuel Sachs II, became head of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1973, then later Director of the Detroit Institute for the Arts and New York's Frick Collection. Paul Sachs' grandson, Franklin W. Robinson, also became -- in 1979 -- the Director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and later Director of the Johnson Museum at Cornell University. The patriarch Sachs, says Goodman, "largely invented the notion of curatorial training." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 145]
Jewish pre-World War II influence in the European art world -- and Jewish influence in it now -- may be appreciated by this observation by John Conklin. While some wealthy German-Jews -- like financiers William Weinberg, Georges Lurcy, Siegfried Kramarsky, and Jacob Goldschmidt -- were able to get their art out of Europe as capital,
"In 1973 the Austrian government declared that the art in its possession
that it had been unable to return to the rightful owners and heirs would
become state property, saying that there were no longer many claims
being made. Art magazines and Jewish groups challenged that position
... From then until 1985, the Austrian government and Jewish
organizations worked together to find the owners of the unclaimed
pieces. In 1985, the Austrian Parliament passed a law to return to their
rightful owners and heirs more than 8,000 works of art that the Nazis
had confiscated. Some from museums but most from European Jews ...
The law established a period until September 1986 for claims to be
processed; unclaimed works were then to be auctioned off and the
proceeds divided among Austrian [World War II] resistance groups,
the Jewish community in Vienna, and Jewish groups in the United States.
[CONKLIN, p. 222]
With the rise of German fascism, Jewish art historians began emigrating out of Europe. At New York University alone, Jewish refugee art professors included Richard Ettinghaven, Walter Friedlander, Karl Lehman, Alfred Salmony, Guido Schoenberger, and Martin Weinberger. [GOODMAN, #2, p. 61]
Yet another prominent early twentieth century ring of Jewish art dealers was the Stein family: Gertrude, Leo, Michael, and Sarah. "They claimed," says Peter Watson, "often and vociferously, to have discovered modern Art." [WATSON, p. 161] Their famous Parisian salon "was an expression of the Steins' desire to show off and have others take them as seriously as they took themselves ... The Saturday salon made the Steins famous ... Leo took [his] Renoirs and half of the Cezannes to the United States. He was keen to get to New York to try Freudian treatment for three complexes from which he was convinced he suffered: an inferiority complex, a castration complex, and a pariah complex." [WATSON, p. 162]
One of the Stein sisters, Gertrude, became famous as a writer, starting out in America with impressions of Picasso and Matisse which were published in another influential German-Jewish art dealer's magazine in New York City, Camera Work. This man, Alfred Stieglitz, "editor/dealer/entrepreneur/ impresario/photographer," would "spawn the spectacular exhibition that introduced modern art to the United States. It was a show that would change American taste for all time, that would eventually cause modern art to rival Impressionism in all the salesrooms, and that in the long run would leapfrog New York over Paris as the art capital of the world." [WATSON, p. 163] For Gertrude Stein's part, "Stein's apparent pride in her Jewish heritage and frequent assertion of Jewish particularity suggests a strong, continuing identity." [ANTLER, J., p. 175]
With the shift in the Art world center from Europe to New York City, the development of the "art market," "art scene," and "art world" -- in all its most important permutations -- continued to be Jewish-dominated. Julien Levy, for example, was a major dealer of surrealist art in the 1930s. Salvadore Dali was "central to Levy's stable ... Julian Levy and his gallery are central to the history of American art between the wars." [ALTSHULER, B., MARCH 1999] Maurice Wertheim (father of Zionist historian Barbara Tuchman, who we have met earlier) was a major art collector. Also, "as president of the American Jewish Committee in the early 1940s, he tried unsuccessfully to foster support for Israeli statehood." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 61] Wealthy Jewish patron Peggy Guggenheim sponsored and helped build the career of famous Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock whose wife, Lee Krasner (formerly Lena Kreisner) was also Jewish. Ms. Guggenheim had a reputation for "bizarre sexual appetites" and claimed to have slept "with practically every man she ever met," including Pollock. [NAIFEH/SMITH, 1989, p. 478] Guggenheim sued Pollock's widow in the 1960s, "charging a failure to hand over at least fifteen works executed by her late husband between 1946 and 1948 when Miss Guggenheim was subsidizing him on the condition that he give her everything he produced." [BURNHAM, p. 89] For her part, Krasner outlived Pollock by 31 years and amassed a fortune of $26 million, largely from Pollock's estate. "Lee Krasner spent the rest of her life nurturing the Jackon Pollock legend. Through her crafty manipulations, the price of Pollock's paintings skyrocketed into the millions." [GAINES, S., 1998, p. 144]
"After World War II," remarks Gerald Krefetz, "a new element was added to collecting: investment value. Jews were perhaps the first to appreciate the new art and the new ingredient." [KREFETZ, p. 147] Sam Kootz opened a gallery in 1945 (he even experimented, in later years, with selling limited edition art at department stores such as Macy's and Gimbel's.) He, like some others, came to art with "a training in law" and a background as an advertising executive. Among art dealers, says Marcia Bystryn, "Kootz marks a shift from a concern with establishing a personal bond with the artist to a concern for a marketable product ... [BYSTRYN, p. 184] ... [He] was to apply the techniques he learned in the advertising business to that of marketing his artists." [BYSTRYN, p. 185]
Sidney Janis opened his influential gallery in 1948, Leo Castelli ("with his aristocratic manner" [PLATTNER, p. 35] began his own in 1957. "Castelli knows everyone," wrote Sophy Burnham in 1974, "He appears everywhere. An article in Vogue, a spread in Life, a piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine." [BURNHAM, p. 36]
Castelli, owner of one of the most influential American art galleries in modern history, is widely credited to have spectacularly maneuvered the art world to his best economic advantage, the consequences which have been profound in art history. In 1964 Robert Rauschenberg, one of the artists in Castelli's "stable," won the prestigious Venice Bienniale Prize. Sophy Burnham notes that:
"It was said that Castelli first handpicked the American Biennale
commissioner, Alan Solomon, Director of the Jewish Museum; then
he chose eight American representatives (four of whom were attached to
his gallery) and the American judges, then trotted off to Europe to
persuade the other [European] judges ... of the inevitable thunderous
Rauschenberg landslide ... The first person invited to be the American
judge had turned the job down on the grounds that he felt he would have
been unable to exercise his own opinion in the face of American
pressure. [BURNHAM, p. 45]
"I was somewhat responsible for the Rauschenberg victory," Castelli later admitted to the New York Times Sunday Magazine. "After Rauschenberg won the Venice Biennale in 1964," notes Stuart Plattner, "the value of this [genre of] art was 'proven,' and prices for the gallery's artists rose." [PLATTNER, p. 35] "Anyone can discover an artist," Castelli once said, " but to make him what he is, give him importance, that's really discovery." [ECONOMIST, p. 98] In this context, Castelli was influential in the "discovery" of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ray Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, Ellis Kelly, Cy Twombly, and others. [ECONOMIST, p. 99] "There is no deviousness in [Castelli]," insisted Ivan Karp -- another prominent Jewish art dealer who was formerly employed by Castelli, "He's the victim type." [BURNHAM, p. 47]
One of the most influential art exhibitions in the early years of the 20th century, featuring 1,300 art works, was the International Exhibition of Modern Art, also known as the Armory Show. As Karl Meyer notes:
"In 1912 painters Arthur B. Davies and Walt Kuhn toured Europe to gather the
best examples of the most radical modernist works ... By the end of their
hegira Davies and Kuhn had assembled the first large assortment of works by
masters of European modernism to be shown in America ... The Armory Show
has been accurately described by Lloyd Goodman, former director of the
Whitney Museum of American Art, as the 'opening gun in the long, bitter
struggle for modern art in this country.'" [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 100-101]
(Jewish art mogul Henry Geldzahler, chairman of the Metroplitan Museum museum's twentieth-century art and later commissioner of New York City's Cultural Affairs, also mounted a very influential exhibition in 1969: "New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940 to 1970." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 101-102] In the late 1960s, the Metropolitan Museum "assigned five seats on the Metropolitan board to ensure borough-wide representation." Of these five, one was an African-American and three were Jewish: educator Muriel Rosoff Silberstein; Sol Shaviro, a founder of the Bronx Museum of Arts; and Henry Saltzman, former president of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.) [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 114]
Another of the most important New York art sales organizations, still strong today, is the Marlborough Gallery, begun in London in 1948 by two German-Jewish refugees, Frank Lloyd and Harry Fischer. By the 1980s it had branches in New York City, Zurich, Toronto, Rome, Tokyo, Montreal, and Liechtenstein, an "art world multinational corporation." [KREFETZ, p. 160] The Marlborough Gallery's reputation hit rock bottom in the 1960s -- but survived to prosper -- after an ugly series of lawsuits over the estate of painter Mark Rothko (a suicide). The gallery seriously undervalued his remaining work and tried -- by fraud and conspiracy -- to manipulate and skim them for outrageous profits, ultimately losing the case to Rothko's heirs in court. Rothko's daughter Kate also successfully sued the executors of her father's estate -- Morton Levine, Theodore Stamos, and Bernard Reiss ("the most celebrated accountant in the art world as far back as the 1940s." [MYERS, J, p. 236] "The only thing that blocks them [the Jewish mafia] from complete control of the art world," Marlborough's Jewish president, Frank Lloyd, proclaimed, "is Marlborough. We're independent. We are the biggest handicap to that clique." [KRAFETZ, p. 161] On another occasion he admitted that "I collect money, not art ... There is only one measure of success in running a gallery: making money." [SMITH, R., 4-8-98]
Lawsuits and counter suits are common between artists and their galleries. "The artist sees the dealer as a leech," observes Sophy Burnham. [BURNHAM, p. 94] Artist William de Kooning sued dealer Sidney Janis, the Marlborough Gallery initiated legal action against Naum Gabo.
Other recent prominent Jewish art dealers include Laurence Rubin, Irving Bloom, Ronald Feldman, Holly Solomon, Ileana Sonnabend (former wife of Leo Castelli), and many others. In 1998 a London newspaper called Jewish dealer Bernard Jacobson "possibly the leading dealer of modern British art." [COOPER, p. 50] British dealer and art patron Jonathan Silver "established an art gallery for his friend [ultimately art superstar] David Hockney." [DAILY TELEGRAPH, p. 31] Otto Kallir "dealt in expressionist painters ... [He also] became the representative of Grandma Moses and even edited her autobiography." [HEILBUT, p. 218] Andy Warhol's world of Jewish art moguls included Ivan Karp, Irving Blum, and Robert Scull. Henry Geldzahler, a homosexual and curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was "Andy's painting mentor .... Although they were never lovers, the relationship became intimate. Andy spoke to Henry on the phone every night before he went to sleep and every morning as soon as he woke up." [BOCKRIS, V., 1989, p. 158, 101]
In 1980, Warhol produced a limited series of pictures entitled "Jewish Geniuses," featuring portraits of Gertrude Stein, Franz Kafka, Sarah Bernhardt, the Marx Brothers, theologian Martin Buber, Louis Brandeis (the "father" of American Zionism), George Gershwin, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, and former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. An accompanying exhibition was featured at New York's Jewish Museum and the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California. Bluma Goldstein notes the "eagerness of major Jewish museums to mount and advertize the exhbiit and to sell expensive portfolios of the exhibit's seriagraphs" and Warhol's shrewdness in targeting Jewish wealth, prominence in the art world, self-infatuation, and vanity:
"Warhol's preoccupation with money and status is common knowledge and is
reflected in his many prints of dollar signs and paper money ... New York Times
art critic Hilton Kramer, in a review of the exhibit at the New York Jewish
Museum, and David Bourdon, in his book on Warhol, both commented on
the artist's crass opportunism in targeting a specific sector of the public. [Carrie]
Rickey calls it 'the synagogue circuit' -- that is middle-class Jews who could be
counted on to be attracted to things Jewish and contemporary culture and who
also possessed the means to purchase an expensive portfoio in a 200-count
limited edition ... Not unlike this sector the public, the Jewish museums were
drawn to an array of famous Jewish faces artistically displayed by a major artist
popular for the previous two decades ... Ronald Feldman, owner of a New
York art gallery involved in many successful commercial ventures of Warhol's
career, assisted Warhol in selecting Jewish figures, organized the exhibition at
the New York Jewish museum, and issued the print portfolio for sale."
[GOLDSTEIN, B., 2000, p. 128]
In 1993 the New York Times Magazine called Arnold Glimcher "the most successful art dealer in New York. With art collector and Hollywood hot-shot Michael Ovitz as one his best friends, Glimcher could personally merge the New York art scene and the Hollywood movie industry." With Ovitz's Hollywood connections, art dealer Glimcher even became a film director. In an overview of his career, the Times noted that he lent "himself a WASP-ish touch in his early days as an art dealer by assigning himself the Nordic-looking name Arne, and now, in Hollywood, [he] adopt[s] the more Jewish Arnie." [SCHWARTZMAN, p. 32]
As art dealer, Glimcher represent "19 of the world's most demanding artists, from Donald Judd and George Baselitze to Joel Shapiro [Ovitz's cousin] and Julian Schnabel." [SCHWARTZMAN, p. 33] Glimcher also represents Jewish artist Jim Dine, with whom he spent two months in Israel. [BOXER, T., 5-26-01] Glimcher's gallery employs dozens of people, including eight full time archivists. Gallery director, Renato Danese, is a former head of the Visual Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. "One of the amazing things about my father," said a Glimcher son who headed his dad's art catalogue division, "is that in this high-powered world, with all the various things that he's been successful at, he has this innocence." [SCHWARTZMAN, p. 44]
"So savage was the [art] business (fake forgeries and ruthless competition in an unregulated economy)," wrote Sophy Burnham in the 1970s, "that the Art Dealers' Association was formed in the early 1960s to help raise the ethics and reputations of dealers." [BURNHAM, p. 90] But some things never change. In September 1997 ARTnews reported an ongoing Justice Department "probe into the business practices of art dealers and auction houses." Subpoenaed galleries included Acquavella, Didier Aaron, William Beadleston, Simon Dickinson, Robert Haboldt, Hirschl and Adler, Kennedy, Knoedler and Company, Otto Naumann, Newhouse, PaceWildenstein, Rosenberg and Stiebel, and the Sotheby's and Christie's art auction houses. [KASTNER, J, p. 43] "It is believed," said the New York Times, "that about two dozen of New York's more prominent fine art dealers have heard from the Justice Department," [VOGEL, p. A1] adding Richard L. Feigen, Colnaghi and Herman Shickman.
In 1991, the Bernard and S. Dean Levy Gallery in Manhattan was found guilty of collusion and fined $100,000. In 1996, in New Orleans, Federal marshals shut down the Morton M. Goldberg Auction Galleries firm under court order after Morton and David Goldberg were charged with fraud and skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from a British supplier of art and antiques. [GREG, p. 21] Also in 1996, major Jewish art dealer and best-selling novelist (The Thief of Light, no less) David Ramus was sentenced to 33 months in prison for fraud, bilking art collecting clients out of millions of dollars. "There are no rules [in the art world]," he waxed as he prepared for jail, "only bloated songs of money and ego. It's a treasure hunt for grown-ups. And it's like dope; nothing -- no profit, no fortune -- is ever enough." [LAURENCE, p. 21]
In 1999, a Los Angeles Police Department media press release noted
"A museum art thief was convicted of thefts of fine art from two Los Angeles
museums. Nureet Granott, 50, used a fake driver's license, a fraudulent credit
card, and fictitious rental agreement information to garner control of over
$22,000 of art through the art rental galleries of the UCLA/Armand Hammer
Musuem of Art and the L.A. County Museum of Art in 1995 ... [Others were fleeced]
for an estimated $100,000 in goods and services -- from a luxury car to pet bills.
During the museum thefts, Granott assumed the identity of her sister, Hanit Peretz, who
is living in Israel. During many of the transactions, Granott was accompanied
by her husband, David Yehuda Cohen. Both are also suspected of being
involved in questionable real estate transactions." [LOS ANGELES POLICE,
In 2001, the New York state attorney general filed an injunction against the Antique and Design Center (owned by Jill and Dave Schuster) for selling fraudlulent art work over the Internet on e-Bay. It was "the first case of fraud brought by the State against an online art retailer." [ART NEWSPAPER, 5-30-01] The same year, in Boston, art dealers Shirley Sack and Arnold Katzen were "charged with conspiring to launder $4.1 million in drug money." They were arrested "as they attempted to sell paintings, which they claimed were originals by Modigliani and Degas, to a federal agent posing as a drug dealer ... Ms. Sack had been attempting to sell a painting by Raphael and was prepared to accept payment in drug money or from organized crime figures." [MUSEUM SECURITY, 6-3-01]
Also in 2001, Michel Cohen, originally from France, hit the news with his own spectacular art fraud:
"Many are calling it the biggest art fraud ever. When all the figures are in,
art dealer Michel Cohen will have taken the art world for at least $50
million ... [Art dealing] is a jealous and wary system, where each player
guards sources and clients, but it is built on an essential trust. This is the
system that has made the art market the largest unregulated money market
in the world -- a market that Michel Cohen was in a position to loot."
[HADEN-GUEST, A., 2-6-01] ... Whether for purpose of convenience,
privacy or to avoid paying taxes or the authorities, great sums of money
are loaned all the time to purchase art. An inhabitant of the art world's
periphery, Cohen knew this ... The art world's secrecy worked to Cohen's
advantage. Dealers seldom want their peers to know what they are doing."
[HADEN-GUEST, A., 2-12-01]
Always within the art world matrix of incestuous connection and often corruption, the artist has usually championed a rarified "humanities"-based world perspective that is usually antithetical to the daily economic morass in which he or she is mired. Burnham notes that
"[The artist] appears ... at a museum opening or gallery party, for it is
politic to circulate in the art crowd. He mingles with the black-tie patrons
of the arts and acts his own iconoclast part ... all the while hating what
he is doing: the terrible dancing with a prospective patron, the posing,
while at the back of his mind lurks this terrible doubt about the place of
art in society." [BURNHAM, p. 8]
"The artist who would be known," wrote the great folklorist Joseph Campbell, "has to go to cocktail parties to win commissions, and those who win them are the ones who are not in their studios but at parties, meeting the right people and appearing in the right places." [CAMPBELL, p. 49] "Much time," wrote Jewish artist Julian Schnabel, "is spent nurturing liaisons with creatures of the art world mechanism. At first, there is no time for friendship. Later, there is no capacity for it." [CAPLIN, L., 1989, p. 168]
For some artists, total cooption and immersion into the most trivial and superficial of values has occurred. "Striking instances of this culture-industry phenomenon," wrote Anne Bowler and Blaine McBurney in 1993, "may be seen in the cases of painter Kenny Sharf [Jewish and gay] and writer Tama Janowitz [not Jewish]. In both instances, national and sometimes international publicity was directed at these artists in a manner that illustrates the distanced values of the culture industry. In the case of Sharf ... a feature-length cover story in the September 1985 issue of ArtNews [Jewish owned and edited] is representative of the culture industry 'plugging' and labeling process that produce the art world 'star system.' ... The ArtNews piece actually spends a great deal of time discussing everything but Sharf's artwork. Instead, we are treated to a journalistic tableau of downtown parties, clubs, and 'personalities.'" [BOWLER, p. 172-173]
In Paris, from about 1920 to 1940, Jewish painters "were almost a school unto themselves," including Chaim Soutine, Jules Pascin, and Marc Chagall. [KREFETZ, p. 143] Other Jewish painters included Pissaro, Amedo Modligliani, and Szyk. Jewish socio-political artists in America in the 1920s and 1930s included Ben Shahn, Moses Soyer, Chaim Gross, Jack Levine, Morris Kanter, Raphael Soyer, Saul Steinberg, Max Weber, and Abraham Walkowitz. A partial list of other prominent Jewish American artists includes Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz), Julian Schnabel, Barnett Newman, Joel Shapiro, Roy Lichtenstein, Louise Nevelson, Sam Francis, Judy Chicago (Cohen), Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, George Segal, Ad Reinhardt, Morris Louis, Adolph Gottleib, Larry Rivers (Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg), Jim Dine (the Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum's "Artist of the Year" in 2001), [BOXER, T., 5-26-01] Eleanor Antin, Allen Katz, Jacques Lipschitz, Sol Le Witt, Dennis Oppenheim, Max Ernst, Milton Avery, Leonard Baskin, Eugene Berman, Leonid Berman, Hyman Bloom, Louis Eilshemius, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Philip Pearlstein, Rachel Rosenthal, Carolee Schneeman, Susan Weil, Hannah Wilke, Ross Bleckner, among many others. Peter Max has been among the most popularly commercial. "Some critics," says Gerald Krefetz, "have suggested that the whole field of modern abstract art is especially Jewish." [KREFETZ, p. 145]
Even Morris Katz
"is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as 'the most prolific
painter in history,' with over eighteen paintings painted and sold
to date ... 'Paint fast, sell cheap' is his motto." [JACOBSON, H.,
1995, p. 62, 63]
In 2000, sculptor Robert Gober was chosen "to represent the United States at the 2000 Venice Biennale." [VOGEL, C., 5-19-2000, pt 2, p. E30]
Celebrated Jewish architects in recent history include Louis Kahn, Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Moshe Safdie, Frank Gehry, Richard Gluckman, Malcolm Holzman, James Polshek, Robert Siegel, and Robert Stern. Louis Kahn was the architect for both Yale University's art museums; Moshe Safdie designed Ottawa's National Gallery and Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts. Emery Roth "became one of the most prolific architects of high-rise apartment buildings in Manhattan." [SCHACHTMAN, p. 101] Eisenman "founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, the intellectual center of architectural activity in the United States and the place where architects from all over the world come to sniff the breeze." [ARONSON, S., 1983, p. 303] In 2000, "Daniel Libeskind, whose Jewish Museum Berlin has attracted crowds before its exhibits are even in place, was named architect of the Denver Art Museum's new [$62.5 million] wing." [CHANDLER, M., 7-14-2000] "In Germany," notes Cecil Roth," in the middle of the [nineteenth] century, the most prominent name in [architecture] is that of George Hitzig, president of the Academy of Art, who designed the Bourse (1859-64) and the Reichsbank (1869-77). Many of the local branches of this institution, in the full fortress-like floridity of the close of the last century, were erected by E. Jacobsthal, while in Austria, a new tradition in theatrical architecture was started by Oscar Strnad." [ROTH, C., 1940, p. 159]
Even Sigmund Freud's grandson, Lucien Freud, has had phenomenal success as a British painter, selling "small to medium size" pictures for between $200,000-$1 million apiece; occasional individual sales have topped $2 million. Freud's first wife was Kitty Epstein, daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein. [FEAVER, p. 138-139] In 1998 a painting of his daughter Bella sold for $5.83 million, the highest price for a living British artist. A "longtime friend" of Freud is Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild, head of the famous banking firm. Rothschild also heads the National Heritage Monument Trust in Great Britain, an arts agency roughly equivalent to America's National Endowment for the Arts. (Taking a trip to Australia? Perhaps you might show your art work to Henry Krongeld, the chairman of the National Art Center in Melbourne, and listed in at least one Israeli publication as a committed Zionist).
Even Sigmund Freud himself was afforded art museum attention in 1999 when documents, antiques, and other artifacts from his personal life, including a reproduction of his consultation room, toured the United States, beginning at the Smithsonian museum, and later the Jewish Museum in New York City. [BARUCH, E., 1999, p. 11]
In the late 1990s, millionaire British Jewish advertising king Tony Kaye decided he wanted "to have a bigger impact in the world of communications." [HILTY, p. 16] So he moved to Hollywood to become a movie director and a gallery artist. Among Kaye's "art works," noted the (London) Financial Times, was a project to place a real homeless man "on display at the [British] Tate Gallery with a price tag of 4m. pounds .... [The man] will soon be replaced by ... a homeless woman [that] Kaye encountered on Venice Beach [California] and has displayed at the Getty Museum." [HILTY, p. 16]
"Today," says Stephen Brook, "... many of the most distinguished [artist] names in Britain are those of Jews ... [R.B.] Kitaj ... has discovered in middle age an increasing fascination with Judaism ... Like many Jews, his rediscovery of Judaism sprang from this study of the Holocaust; he became a mad expert in the whole 'lugubrious business.' ... His obsession with the Holocaust ... is adumbrated by the inclusion of a chimney-stack motif with some of his recent work." [BROOK, p. 329]
Kitaj, who was born in Ohio, coined the term "School of London" to describe the work of himself, Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Michael Andrews, and Francis Bacon. He had a major retrospective exhibition in 1994 that was roundly trashed by critics. Three months later, noted the New York Times, Kitaj's wife, the painter Sandra Fisher ("who is credited with the largest picture ever made -- 300 ft. by 100 ft., for a Heineken advertisement" [BARKER, p. 10], "died unexpectedly of an aneurysm at age 47. And Mr. Kitaj concluded that his critics motivated by anti-Semitism killed her." [RIDING, p. 13] "I have long since resolved to be a Jew," once declared Kitaj, "... I regard that as more important than my art." [STEYN, J., 1999, p. 153] Juliet Steyn notes traditional Jewish self-conception in one of Kitaj's paintings: "The chimney [in a Kitaj painting] functions as an indictment of Christianity. Hence Jewish identity in Kitajy's painting is achieved in opposition to Christianity ... Innocense and guilt: Jew and Gentile." [STEYN, J., 1999, p. 168]
The theme of suddenly returning to a lost Jewish identity (and sometimes Judaism) via the decades-old Holocaust is a common one, reflected also in the work of Judy (Cohen) Chicago, a daughter of Marxists and co-founder with Miriam Shapiro of the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute for the Arts. (In New York, Jewish artists Barbara Zucker and Pollie Attie founded the feminist collective gallery "AIR" -- Artists in Residence. Zucker "recalls being ambivalent and embarrassed at being Jewish, yet felt guilty for harboring such emotions. In the late 1980s, she began to explore her Jewish identity." [HYMAN, p. 73] In a like manner, following her son's bar mitzvah, a rereading of the book of Genesis, and a trip to Israel [feminist artist] Ann Sperry produced her own version of the biblical story of creation." [HYMAN, p. 73] Particularly important in Judy Chicago's Jewish retrieval was her viewing of Claude Lansmann's Holocaust movie, Shoah. "The next two years," says the Cleveland Jewish News,
"were spent reading everything she could find about the Holocaust,
visiting museums and exhibitions, viewing films and listening to survivor's
tapes ... In 1987, Chicago [and her Jewish husband, Donald Woodman]
traveled the 'landscape of the Holocaust,' a 6,000-mile journey following
Hitler's pathway of destruction through Germany, France, Austria,
Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the former Soviet Union ... While
Woodman took pictures, Chicago wrote, writing her impressions and
feelings in her 'Jewish journal.'" [HELLER, F, p. 14]
Eventually this long escapade became a popular art installation: Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light, Chicago's "journey of identity as a Jew." [HELLER, p. 14]
Art world interest in the Holocaust might be measured by ARTnews' features in recent years on various aspects of the subject, including an article entitled "Picasso at Auschwitz." "Picasso embraced me," recalls Pierre Daix, "and said in a low voice: 'To think that painters once thought they could paint The Massacre of the Innocents.'" [DAIX, p. 197]
Art Spigelman's Holocaust comic book, Maus, merited an article, as did Gay Block's photographic portraits of "Rescuers of the Holocaust." [DRUCKER, p. 114-118] This series of portraits of people who saved Jews from Nazis was also an exhibition at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art. MOMA also "mounted a show on the making of Maus ... which ... documented Spigelman's working methods." [BERMAN, A, p. 63-64] Yet another ARTnews article in 1995 featured the paintings of Peter Malkin, "a former Mossad agent who helped capture [former Nazi] Adolf Eichmann in Argentina." [CLEMENTS, F., p. xvii]
Another artist, Anselm Kiefer, "one of the most important artists to emerge in post-war Europe," started out as an art student in 1969 by having "himself photographed in a paramilitary costume, giving Nazi-style salutes in front of monuments, landscapes, and seascapes around Germany." Thirty years later he was afforded an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. "We see railroad tracks anywhere," he was quoted as saying, "and think about Auschwitz." [MENDELSOHN, J. 1999, p. 37] 54 of the author's works "were acquired" in 1995. As two Jewish art critics note about the importance of catering to Jewish concerns in recent art trends, "there are tons of non-Jews -- Christian Boltonski, Anselm Kiefer, Christopher Williams, to name a few -- who've done astonishing work dealing with Jewish culture, persecution [and] the Holocaust." [AUERBACH/WEISSMAN, 3-21-99, p. 51]
Art world and auction house cynicism for profit knows few limits. "On the very day [in 1979] the Pope preached at Auschwitz," notes Theodore Ziolkowski, "fifty lots of Nazi memorabilia brought record prices at an auction in New York, including $5,000 for a small diary kept by Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's mastermind of the 'Final Solution.'" [ZIOLKOWSKI, p. 685] Adolf Hitler himself was a water color painter and his work today has sold for thousands of dollars. Long before Hitler achieved world wide notoriety as a war monger and mass murderer, notes M. H. Goldberg, "most of the paintings Hitler did sell were bought by Jewish dealers." [GOLDBERG, M., 1976, p. 37]
As art dealer and memorabilia seller Charles Hamilton notes:
"Contrary to popular belief, Hitler was never a house painter but was, in fact,
an artist who actually made a meager living from his watercolors of flowers
and buildings and street scenes. Several years ago I had a visit from my good
friend, Shea Tennenbaum, a distinguished Hebrew poet, and our conversation
fell upon art and artists.
'A great artist paints from his soul, not from his mind,' said Shea. 'It is this flood
of deep, inner emotion that makes a great artist.'
'Don't you think an artist can counterfeit emotion?' I asked. And without waiting
for a reply, I walked to a file in my gallery and took out a small watercolor of
flowers in a vse. 'What do you think of this?'
Shea studied it. 'Obviously,' he said, 'the artist was a man of great delicacy and
profound feelings, a lover of beauty. He has captured the supreme moment in
the existence of these flowers and recorded it with taste and skill.'
I said: 'Look at the signature in the lower left.'
Shea looked and gasped in horror. The signature was that of Adolf Hitler.
For a moment I feared that Shea might slump to the floor, but he quickly
recovered himself and I apologized for the prank."
After Hitler had twice failed the matriculation test for the Vienna Academy of
Arts and Sciences -- he had hoped to become an architect -- he turned to
dabbling in watercolors. His favorite subjects were deserted streets, public
buildings, and churches. A friend of Hitler's, Reihold Hanisch, pretended to
be blind so he wouldn't need a peddler's license and hawked Hitler's paintings
for him in the bars of Vienna. They sold for a few kronen reach and the two
youths split the take, much of which they spent on pastries and whipped cream.
At this time Hitler was bearded and wore a derby and a long black coat that gave
him a very Semitic appearance. Oddly, most of his regular customers were
Jewish, and since Hitler was fond of quoting Jewish proverbs he was often
taken for a Jew." [HAMILTON, C., 1981, p. 182]
Holocaust survivor material also has a price tag. In December 1997, for example, Edith Hahn's "personal letters documenting her [Holocaust] survival, her love affairs and her escape as a Jew during World War II" went for $169,250 at a Sotheby's auction. [BROWN, p. 1] Also on the Holocaust theme, in 1995 Rabbi Israel Miller gave the Jewish editor of ARTnews, Milton Esterow, an honorary shofar, "a ram's horn blown in synagogues before and during Rosh Hoshanah for the magazine's role in transferring the ownership of thousands of artworks stolen from victims of the Holocaust by the Nazis to the Jewish community of Vienna." [ARTnews, 10-96, p. 53] In the late 1980s, a commission to do a Holocaust memorial art work for the New York Appellate Courthouse "triggered [in Harriet] Feigenbaum [an] interest in her Jewish roots." [HYMAN, p. 73]
All this of course reflects latent Jewish "particularist" exploitation of America's new "cultural pluralism" paradigm. As Paula Hyman and Deborah Dash note:
"During the last decades, the concept of America as a melting pot was
gradually replaced by visions of a multicultural society based on ethnic
diversity, and the concept of 'universal' art reflecting a master-narrative
was challenged by the belief in the necessity of pluralistic art forms."
[HYMAN, p. 69]
Perhaps the most obsessive "art work" about the Holocaust, blending aesthetics, mass murder, and a neurotic Jewish identity, is that of a 23-year Jewish California lesbian, Marina Vainshtein, who sports 25 body piercings and a red Mohawk haircut. As one Jewish art critic appreciatively notes, Vainshtein also has
"tattoos of graphic Holocaust images over most of her body. On her
upper back, the central image represents a train transport carrying Jewish
prisoners in striped uniforms towards waiting ovens ... It was ... in high
school [in Los Angeles] that Vainshtein became obsessed with
Holocaust literature ... Vainshtein's tatoos include a violin player ...
surrounded by hanging corpses, anguished faces and Zyklon B, the
killing agent in the gas chambers. The screaming faces of prisoners
being gassed are tattooed on one breast." [APEL, p. 12, 14]
Then there are the likes of Rachel Schreiber, a video artist, and teacher at the Heron School division of Indiana University in Indianapolis, whose recent works include a video expression entitled: "Please Kill Me: I'm a Faggot Nigger Jew." [SCHRIEBER, R., 2000]
For "superstar" Jewish novelist Judith Krantz, it's not permissible to even mention some historic art movements. Jewish victimology usurps them. She recounts her outrage when, visiting a German art museum, her companion dared to mention the "Dachau school of landscape painting" [Dachau was also the later site of a Nazi concentration camp where Jews were murdered]:
"Suddenly [Krantz's German companion] exclaimed, 'Oh, look here at the masterworks
of the Dachau School of landscape painting.' 'WHAT DID YOU SAY?' 'The
Dachau School of landscape painting,' she replied in all innocense, showing me
some charming paintings of rural countryside. 'It was a well-known artistic
movement.' Only then did I realize that Anna laced the faintest idea of history.
My mind whirling, I couldn't decided where to start her education." [KRANTZ,
J., 2000, p. 304]
Invariably, within the "back to Jewish" roots model, surfaces the ages-old Jewish world view, sanctified in the myths of the Jewish Holocaust, that celebrates "galut/exile." And the model is this: constant self-hatred in a world other than Jewish, obsession with physical and/or intellectual markers of Distinction, the incessant Persecution Complex, and the notion that Jews -- God's (or no God's) eternal outsiders -- cannot, and should not, successfully assimilate into the rest of modern American society. In 1997, Jewish art critic Donald Kuspit addressed this theme of modern Jewish identity in an article called "Unconsciously, Always an Alien and Self-Alienated: The Problem of Jewish American Artists." The Jew, says Kuspit
"may symbolize the ultimate alien in Christian society, the common
enemy against which all Christians can unite ... In the minds of both
[secular and religious] Jews the memory -- the threat -- of genocide
remains ever present. For all their differences, the two [kinds of Jews]
are inwardly united; they know Christian society regards them as one
and the same." [KUSPIT, p. 30]
In 1999 Juliet Steyn noted a film entitled Jewish Artists in the East End (of New York City) about David Bomberg, Mark Gertler, and Alfred Wollmark where "Richard Cork argues that a common identity existed between them as Jews: alienation in the condition they share." [STEYN, J., 1999, p. 17]
Among the international artists most popularized in recent American art history, "rediscovered in the late 60's and early 70's," [TANNER, p. D3] is the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kahlo, "often described as Mexico's foremost woman painter," [SOLOMON, p. 28] was half-Jewish. So, decides reviewer Deborah Solomon, Kahlo "combined a Jewish feeling for psychic suffering with a Mexican feeling for bold design." [SOLOMON, p. 28] Her paintings today, notes the San Francisco Chronicle in a 1992 article entitled Why Frida Is Everywhere, "sell for millions.' [TANNER, p. D3] "None of us can claim to be immune from Fridamania," says Holly Barnet-Sanchez, chief curator of the Mexican Museum.
In 2001, an Arizona newspaper noted one dimension of the Frida Kahlo craze at an exhibition of Mexican art at the Phoenix Art Museum. The show featured the collection of wealthy Mexican Jewish collectors Jacques and Natasha Gelman, "major players in the glamorous Mexico City film scene of the 1940s":
"Contemporary acquistions ... [of Jacques and Natasha Gelman] have been
expertly guided by longtime [Jewish] Gelman friend Robert
Littman, ex-director of Mexico City's now-defunct Centro Cultural/Arte
Cultural). As president of the Vergel Foundation, which is responsible for
carrying on the Gelman legacy, Littman seems to possess an infallible eye."
[Vanesian, K., 6-701]
The Gelmans became rich in the motion picture business in Mexico. Artist Kahlo, like others, "often paid the rent by doing portraits of wealthy socialites." One of Kahlo's portraits of Natasha Gelman "captures the woman, crowned with sausage curls al modo and draped ina a fur stole." "To anyone familiar with Mexican art history," writes critic Kathleen Vanesian,
"the Gelman exhibition is not a well-balanced overview of Mexican art mid-century ...
Rather, it's a classically status-driven, gotta-be-better-than-the-Gomezes
compilation reflecting one tuype of art collector's psychic preoccupation
with memorializing himself and notable public figures with which he has
socialized. Frankly, it's one more befitting a newly moneyed, 18th-century
Dutch burgher than a discerning, visionary collector seeking emerging
and mid-career artists' best and most enduring works." [VANESIAN, K., 6-7-01]
Other intriguing Jewish art angles these days include the New York Jewish Museum (which gave Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns their first important exhibitions) where "a high tech highlight of the galleries devoted to the Israelite period [is] the interpretive Talmud -- a video that displays Talmudic passages with inset translations and talking heads." [ROSENBAUM, p. 102] Elsewhere, "last summer," noted ARTnews in 1994, "Jane Alexander [a Gentile] was starring on Broadway, playing a Jewish banker in The Sisters Rosensweig. No one, least of all the actress herself, imagined that she'd soon take on what may be her most challenging role yet -- leader of the embattled National Endowment for the Arts." [CEMBELAST, p. 71-72] In Eastern Europe, with the collapse of communism, Jewish-American billionaire George Soros has "introduced artists to new systems of patronage, exhibitions, and competition" with the Soros Center for Contemporary Arts in Prague, one of 20 Soros-established organizations throughout former communist countries. [BERNSTEIN, R]
One of the things the Eastern Europeans can learn is that in the relatively narrow art world circle, "there is a constant movement of people around the jobs of the art world, from college professor to museum director to dealer to magazine editor." [BURNHAM, p. 125] All such occupations tend to overlap. Nepotism and interconnectedness run rampant. Prominent dealer Ivan Karp, for instance, started out as an art critic for the Village Voice. He later worked for art dealer Leo Castelli before starting his own gallery, O.K. Harris. Castelli's ex-wife Ileana (Sonnabend) started her own eventually important gallery too. Artist Alexander Lieberman started out as a layout editor at Vogue. His stepdaughter became a contributing editor for Art in America and was married to another artist, Cleve Gray, who showed at the same gallery as Lieberman, and was also a contributing editor to Art in America, as well as a sometimes writer for Vogue. "Those who questioned Liberman's art," notes Thomas Meir, "invariably mentioned his status as editorial director at Conde Nast," the firm owned by billionaire media magnate Si Newhouse, of whom Liberman has been a close friend for thirty years. [MAIER, p. 70] "Poverty is not conducive to good art," Liberman told the New York Times in a feature about his studio, "and I have always believed in living life to the hilt." [MAIER, p. 70] Prominent art critic Clement Greenberg was both an associate editor of the Jewish magazine Commentary and art critic for the Nation. He also worked earlier with Elliot Cohen (later the head of Commentary) at The Contemporary Jewish Record. [FREEDMAN, M., 1994, p. 583] Prominent fellow Jewish art critic Harold Rosenberg "helped launch Clem in his early career as an art critic." [FREEDMAN, M., 1994, p. 587] Among those many Greenberg himself helped along in their careers was Rosalind Krauss who he once referred to as one of the "smart Jewish girls with their typewriters." [FREEDMAN, M., 1994, p. 587]
Such "cross-pollinating" may be witnessed in the recent case of Tom L. Freudenheim who, at the same time, has been an executive at the National Endowment for the Arts, Assistant Secretary for the Arts and Humanities at the Smithsonian Museum, and Board Vice-Chairman of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Henry Geldzahler was "curator of twentieth century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, program director for the Visual Arts of the NEA, a close friend of many artists, and a friend and follower of [prominent critic Clement] Greenberg." [BURNHAM, p. 127]
Artist Jim Rosenquist really got his career started when someone "told Alan Stone [about Rosenquist's work] who told Ileana Sonnenbend, who told Dick Bellamy and Ivan Karp and Henry Geldzahler and Leo Castelli who came down to the studio in that order to see the picture." [BURNHAM, p. 106] In the case of prominent artist William de Kooning, his wife -- Elaine Fried (both Gentiles) -- is credited by some for "largely creating and orchestrating the 'de Kooning myth," including having sex with influential art critic Harold Rosenberg and ARTnews editor Thomas Hess [both Jewish]. "When Elaine slept with Hess," claims an "unnamed elder statesman in the art world," Bill got publicity in ARTnews. When Elaine had an affair with Harold Rosenberg, he paid Bill off with attention." [GLUECK, p. 129] She herself eventually wrote art reviews for ARTnews. And the dominant art critic of that era, Clement Greenberg? "Greenberg's compulsive womanizing ... -- often inseparable from his promotion of female artists -- has long been legendary ... In the early 1950s he carried on an affair with artist Helen Frankenthaler." [LEWIS, MJ, p. 59]
Incestuous collusion, mutual back-scratching, under the table wheeling and dealing, nepotism, and clique allegiance are intrinsic principles of the modern art world. Another case in point was Bill Rubin, chief curator of painting at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1970s. Rubin's brother was a New York art dealer. In 1970 Rubin set up an exhibition of the work of Frank Stella, a personal friend, and an artist in his brother's gallery. Rubin even exhibited at MOMA two Stella paintings he owned himself. The show could be expected to automatically raise Stella's art prices, personally beneficial to both curator Rubin and his brother.
In 1943 Sam Kootz became an adviser to the Museum of Modern Art; the next year he was also a private art dealer, eventually selling works of art by Picasso. When MOMA held a Picasso exhibition in the 1940s, Kootz was holding a simultaneous Picasso exhibition as a private dealer. [BYSTRYN, p. 186]
Dore Ashton, an art critic for the New York Times, was once reprimanded by her editor for choosing to write about art shows that included her own husband, Adja Yunkers. She wrote that
"Of this trio, Adja Yunkers, showing heroic and sultry pastels at the
Emmerich Gallery, is the most romantic, stoking the fire of color and
shape to degree of thrilling intensity. Yunkers, who uses pastels with
verve and assurance, organizes restless compositions in a truly
symphonic way, summing up a complex infinite of shapes and color
for the majestic 'scoring' of these beautiful and impressive pictures."
[BURNHAM, p. 342]
During the mid-1960s, says John Conklin, "the price of favorable attention by a prominent critic Clement Greenberg was the gift of one or two major works. Critics have built up reputations of artists whose work they have personally invested, and then profited from the sale of the art. Art historian Bernard Berenson sometimes overpraised artworks in which he had a financial stake, even vouching for paintings that he knew had undergone significant restorations so as to be made more appealing to buyers. He earned substantial commissions from the sale of paintings by dealer Joseph Duveen, collecting more than $8 million from Duveen in their twenty year partnership ... Moreover, Duveen financed much of Berensen's art criticism, which he then used to justify the prices he charged to wealthy collectors." [CONKLIN, p. 44]
Critic Clement Greenberg, member of the Jewish mafia "New York Intellectuals," and probably the most powerful art critic of his era, carried with him a reputation for paybacks for friendly reviews. "No other critic has so openly allied himself to the merchandizing of art," wrote Sophy Burnham, "...[It is accused that] he turned his influence to personal profit, accepting free paintings, writing and lecturing about contemporary art, and selling the pictures high." [BURNHAM, p. 149-150] "For three decades," notes Michael J. Lewis, "art criticism in America was the domain of a rule-giving prophet [Greenberg] ... Where his favor came to rest, as it did for a time on the paintings of Jackson Pollack, there followed national celebrity and success." Other prominent Jewish contemporary art critics "included Meyer Schapiro and Harold Rosenberg. Hilton Kramer arrived on the scene a bit later." [LEWIS, MJ, 1998] When British/Jewish art critic David Sylvester died in 2001, London's Daily Telegraph declared him "modern art's most influential critic." [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7-20-01]
"Jewish emigres in flight from the Nazi genocide and Jews of earlier emigrations, such as Meyer Schapiro and Clement Greenberg, for example,"notes Catherine Soussloff,
"had a definitive and formative influence on art and art history in America and
England -- and by today in the English-speaking world as a whole. The impact of
these Jewish art historians, critics, and artists in the interpretation and exhibition
of art in America and elsewhere was central for art history." [SOUSSLOFF, C., 2000]
Among his favorites, Greenberg championed "Washington Color School" artists. "By the end of the 1960s," notes Burnham, "Greenberg's Color School artists were being shown in four important galleries in New York, Paris, London, and Toronto. They were collected in museums, including the Metropolitan, MOMA, and the Smithsonian, and considerable muttering could be heard -- not always good-natured -- about the Mafia and the Kosher Nostra." [BURNHAM, p. 107]
"I've decided the kind of people attracted to art are often psychopaths," Greenberg once said, "You can quote me on that. In art and literature both -- Do you know the difference between psychopaths and psychotics? Psychopaths are people with defective consciences. They cannot tell right from wrong." [BURNHAM, p. 157] For his part, Greenberg is reputed to have walked into artist Barnett Newman's studio and asked for a painting. "Barney was going to give him something small -- a lithograph perhaps," notes Sophy Burnham, "'I don't want that,' said Greenberg, 'I want that big one over there. It's your best picture.' And Newman, inwardly raging, capitulated to his own ambitions and handed over the painting. Greenberg takes only the best ... If the critic has an undisclosed stake in the artist's reputation, it is not for the artist to question." [BURNHAM, p. 131]
Margaret Olin suggests that widespread Jewish early and mid-twentieth century championing of formalist art (art denuded of social, political, cultural, and religious reference) had -- until recent years when celebratory Jewish "particularism" has been unleashed-- been rooted in their self-interest in downplaying publicly their Jewish identities. Prominent Jewish art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, for example, were especially prominent in the encouragement of "Abstract Art." Occasionally, however, latent counter-attitudes to abstract universalism could indiscreetly surface. Greenberg, for example, once remarked that "it is possible that by 'world-historical' standards the European Jew represents a higher type of human being than any yet achieved." [OLIN, p. 51] This Jewish elitism, lingering just behind a universalistic front, was also manifest in critic Bernard Berenson. Despite his own professed "tendency toward universalism and timelessness" and "the same human quality in every individual," he further proposed to "erect the same qualities into ultimate standards, and to appraise societies as well as individuals by the extent to which they have possessed these qualities." "Thus [for Berenson]," notes Margaret Olin, "like George Orwell's Animal Farm, which found some animals more equal than others, he found some societies more universally human than others." [OLIN, p. 48]
By the 1980s, art critic Peter Halley found some intriguing historical essences in what he calls a Jewish American artist renaissance:
"Art in the 80's has been consistently labeled as ostentatious, garish,
extravagant, garish, extravagant, vulgar, and over-scaled. These are
the epithets of the parvenu or nouveau riche. However, they are also
terms that, in earlier decades, were used to characterize Jewish-American
taste and style. I want to be very clear that I am not making any claim
that anti-Semitism has entered the critical debate. I would suggest
instead that the commentators who have thus defined the 1980s have
been blind to the meanings that this aesthetic of extravagance may
have for Jewish artists of the 80s." [HALLEY, p. 28]
Halley might have been thinking, among many other candidates, about the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Jewish curator of contemporary art, as did Lee Seldes, in 1979:
"Trendy Henry Geldzahler [is] the curator of the newly created, hotly
debated contemporary arts department. His recent exhibition "New
York Painting and Sculpture, 1940-1970," had set a record for swish
ostentation but engaged serious artists and scholars." [SELDES, p. 5]
"Historically," notes James Twitchell, "the modern museum has been the site of pitched battles for control, for social territory, for what modern criticism calls privileging." [TWITCHELL, p. 214] Steadily, in recent decades, traditional wealthy White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant control of major art institutions has been replaced by Jewish art philanthropy and their own attendant influence and control in shaping -- or reshaping -- the standards of value and aesthetics in the art world. "Jews significantly support 'high culture' in America," notes Barry Kossim, "Their support of hospitals, museums, symphonies, and universities across the country now appear disproportionate not only to their numbers but also their proportion of the wealthy." [KOSSIM, p. 26]
Jews have long been prominent in the institutionalized art world, as both formal, public directors and powerful behind-the-scenes "philanthropists". George Blumental, for example, headed (1933-1941) New York's influential Metropolitan Museum, as did Thomas Hoving (son of the chairman of Tiffany and Co.) beginning in 1967. [Hoving was once described by New York Times reporter John Hess as "a compulsive liar and likened [him] to a cover-up artist." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 92] Irene and Alice Lewisohn's Museum of Costume Art merged with the Met in 1946. Michael Friedsam, Jules Bache, and Samuel Lewisohn were other prominent Met philanthropists in that era. "When Henry Geldzahler [the eventual director of the visual arts program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the New York City Commissioner on Cultural Affairs] ... was brought to the Met as a junior curator of American art, James Rorimer [another Jewish Met director] advised him not to let the trustees know he was Jewish." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 71] (Future Met head Thomas Hoving also became a Rorimer "protege" when Rorimer hired him as an assistant curator.) [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 94] "Following the precedents set by Geldzahler," adds Goodman, "two Jews have since held the prized curatorship of modern art at the Metropolitan. The first was Thomas Hess, well known as an art critic and collector. He was the son-in-law of Edith Stern, a major patron of the New Orleans Art Museum, and daughter of Julius Rosenwald. Stern's sister, Adele Levy, was a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 72]
In 1969 Robert Lehman, a Vice-President, then the Chairman of the Board, and a Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for twenty years, willed to it his $100 million collection of Old Master paintings. "Bobby Lehman," noted a friend after his death, "wanted his pyramid; with plate glass before the art works. See, Bobby, knew about Macys [Department Store]: the entrance is small, but the display windows are large ... when you go to Macys, the pots and pans are in the basement and the Lanvin perfume is at the entrance. Art today is a kind of cultural cosmetic." [BURNHAM, p. 173] By the mid-1980s one-fifth of the Museum's Board of Trustees were Jewish, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, then CBS-chairman Laurence Tisch, and Mrs. Walter Annenberg. [CHRISTOPHER, p. 217] Wealthy Metropolitan Museum philanthropist Saul Steinberg even held his wedding reception at the museum, as did a member of the wealthy Tisch family. [CANTOR, p. 403]
In 1980, Frederic P. Rose, a real estate developer and former President of the New York United Jewish Appeal-Federation, was appointed to the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ("There's more yikus [prestige] in being on the Met Board than in being on our own," said a UJA-Federation official, "and a lot more clout." [SILBERMAN, p. 215] Soon after, a friend and fellow Jewish real estate mogul, Harold D. Uris, donated $10 million to the Museum. "As a result," says Charles Silberman, "the museum decided on a new focus for its fundraising drives. 'Met Museum Aiming to Tap Real Estate Industry,' a New York Times headline read, using a euphemism for 'wealthy Jews.'" [SILBERMAN, p. 215] With the death of Jack Linsky in 1982, his will stipulated another $50 million for the Metropolitan Museum. [GOLAN, p. 6]
In 1991 communications mogul Walter Annenberg willed his whole art collection -- "one of the most valuable and highly sought-after in history" -- to New York's Metropolitan Museum. He also pledged a $10 million gift over a five year period to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. [MOMENT, p. 196] (Annenberg's wife, Lenore, had been "chief of protocol" for the Reagan administration's State Department. Renee Crown, wife of the Lester Crown who has controlled the General Dynamics weapons corporation, has served as the chair of the Women's Board of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. [BAER, p. 210] By the early 1990s, other Jewish mass media barons like S. I. Newhouse of Advance, and Hollywood powerbroker Michael Ovitz, were on the board of trustees of the Met. "On one occasion in the 1990s," notes Robert Slater, "[Ovitz] scoured [his 2,000 art] books in search of a suitable background for the advertisement that [his company Creative Artists Agency] produced for Coca-Cola. One advertisement, with Coca-Cola bottles falling out of the sky, was meant to be reminiscent of a Rene Magritte painting." [SLATER, p. 161]
At the Met, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (former publisher of the New York Times) eventually became its chairman. He oversaw an institution in which Jews, says George Goodman, "have enriched almost area of the Museum's collections, including pre-Colombian ceramics (Nathan Cummings), African art (Klaus Perls), ancient Mediterranean and Middle Easter Art (Norbert Schimmel), Old Masters Paintings (Lore and Rudolph Heinemann), French decoration arts (Belle and Sol Linsky) modern European Art (Florence May Schoenborn), modern American art (Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman; Edith and Milton Lowenthal), Indonesian bronzes (Samuel Eilenberg), and South and Southeast Asian Art (Enid Haupt and Lita Hazen, Walter Annenberg's sisters). " [GOODMAN, #2, p. 73] Throughout the Met too, galleries, rooms, theatres, and gardens are named after Jewish sponsors including Iris and B. Gerald Canter, Helene and Michael David-Weill, Lawrence and Barbara Fleishman, Howard Gilman, Leon Levy, Henry R. Kravis, Janice H. Levin, Carroll and Milton Petrie, Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sacker, Laurence Tisch, and Ruth and Harold Uris. (Among the various Jewish curators at the Museum is Barbara Weinberg, head of American Paintings and Sculpture).
By the 1990s, across town, both vice-presidents of New York's equally prestigious Museum of Modern Art were also Jewish -- Ronald S. Lauder and Richard Salomon. (In 2001, another Jewish member of MOMA's board, media mogul Si Newhouse, resigned after breaking MOMA 's ethical policy when he manuevered to purchase a Picasso painting that was owned by the museum). [D'ARCY, D., 6-5-01] In 1995 Lauder -- cosmetic heir and Eastern European media mogul -- became chairman of the board; in 1997 he spent $50 million on a Cezanne painting for his private collection. (In 1988, after a stint as a Reagan-appointed ambassador to Austria, he was the subject of an Austrian parliamentary investigation for his purchase and export from that country 120 art works worth more than $10 million. Lauder decried the investigation, saying that the "investigation is a politically motivated attempt to discredit him for expressing his views on anti-Semitism in Austria." [PROTZMAN, p. 42] Aside from being a major donator to the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and gobbling up a major share of the mass media system in Eastern Europe, this is the kind of man that today heads one of the most important museums in America:
"[Lauder] was recently named chairman of the Museum of Modern
Art in New York after making a multi-million dollar pledge ...Some
critics grumbled about [Lauder's] ascent to the chairmanship of the
Museum of Modern Art earlier this year after making his pledge."
[Wall Street Journal, JERESKI, p. A1]
"[Lauder] did a stint at the Pentagon beginning in 1983 and was an
ambassador to Austria from 1986 to 1987, a job for which he was
widely lambasted as being ineffectual. (ABC's Ted Koppel once
asked him to comment on reports he was considered 'a laughingstock'
there, to which he tersely replied, 'Thank you.') -- Wall Street Journal,
[JERESKI, p. A10]
After spending $14 million to buy his way into the position of New York City's mayor (and failing) in 1989, Richard Reeves wrote an Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial, saying:
"To me, Mr. Lauder stands as an advertisement for confiscatory
inheritance taxes and another indictment of American campaign
financing. His major claim to credibility -- other than a declared net
worth of $227 million -- is a stint as the U.S. ambassador to Austria.
He got that after raising money for Ronald Reagan." [REEVES, p. A15]
In 1994, Ronald Lauder's brother, Leonard, was named chairman of another New York City cultural monument, the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art. (David Ross director of that museum since 1991, became head of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1998. Adam Weinberg is the Whitney's Curator of Permanent Collections.) In the early 1990s the Museum of Modern Art wanted to buy the building next door, the Dorset Hotel. The key to its successful acquisition was MOCA (another Jewish) board member Jerry Speyer who "had known the owner, Sol Goldman, for years, and he know Goldman's children, who inherited the building on their father's death." [TRAUB, p. 67]
Also in New York, the prominent Jewish Guggenheim family founded the Guggenheim Museum (1998 president: Jewish corporate raider Ronald Perelman), as well as the prestigious humanities foundation that bears their name. By the 1980s, four of the ten board members that dole out the MacArthur Foundation "genius awards" were also Jewish; two Jews also sat on the board of the Russell Sage Foundation. [CHRISTOPHER, p. 121] The Kaplan Fund has also had an important impact on the art community in divvying out awards. One of J. M. Kaplan's daughters was married to a prominent artist, another was the Chairman of the New York State Arts Council. [KREFETZ, p. 153] Joan Kaplan Davidson was appointed as chairman of the $34 million New York State Art Council in 1975 despite the fact that she was "not professionally trained in the arts." Her mother, Alice Kaplan, was once president of the American Federation of the Arts. The founder of the Kaplan Fund, J. M., Kaplan, was also founder of the Welch's Grape Juice company. [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 77]
Jewish dominance in 1990s New York also continues with Ellen Futter (President of the American Museum of Natural History), Betsy Gotbaum (Director of the New York Historical Society), Susan Soros (Director of the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, David Ross (Director of the Whitney Museum of Art), Cornell Capa (until recent retirement, the chief officer at the International Center for Photography), and Mark Rosenthal (Senior Curator at the Guggenheim Museum).
Up the Hudson Valley, a bit out of Manhattan, in smaller communities, the New York Times noted in 1997 that
"At the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, bar mitzvahs
ease the unrelenting financial crunch. In Yonkers, at the Hudson River
Museum, there are weddings after the public leaves. And in Katonah
at the Caramoor Center for Music and Find Arts, Jewish High Holy
Day services pay the way." [BRENNER, SEC. 14, p. 1]
Two Wall Street Journal reporters noted a "private party" held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1980s:
"Outside the Metropolitan Museum that blustery September evening,
there was all the anticipation of a Hollywood opening. Through a
phalanx of photographers and reporters the cream of New York
society hustled outside, the ladies clutching their hair against the
wind, the men dapper in tuxedos, flashing invitations by one
account 'as stiff as sheetrock.' In went the Saul Steinbergs, Carol
and Punch Sulzberger of the New York Times, Jonathan and
Laura Tisch, and a hundred others.
Few even in this social stratum had the connections to throw a
private party at the museum, but greeting their guests inside the
wrought-iron gates of its Medieval Court was a couple who had
muscled their way in with a $10 million donation: Henry Kravis
and his stunning, fashion-designer wife, Carolyne Roehm."
[BURROUGH/HELYAR, p. 128] [All the men mentioned
At New York University, the art department is called the "Tisch School of the Arts." The philanthropist it is named after, Laurence Tisch, "does not hide his affection for Israel, even when it costs him money. Thus, for example, when Israeli ministers stay at the Regency Hotel [in New York], owned by the Tisch-controlled Loews Corporation, they receive a significant discount." [HANDWERKER]
Going to Carnegie Hall? You'll probably be sitting in the recital hall named after Sanford I. Weill, the Jewish chairman and co-chief of Citigroup. Weill gave a large sum of money to them music center in 1983. He is also the current Chairman of the Board of Carnegie Hall. [NEW YORK TIMES, Weill, p. 10]
In Los Angeles, the most important mover behind the creation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was a Jewish industrialist, Norton Simon (among his economic holdings is Hunt Foods). Three separate museum buildings were constructed, two of the three named after a Jewish benefactor: Howard Abrahamson, Armand Hammer, and Leo Bing (funded by his wife Anna in his memory). The first chairman of the LACMA board of trustees was also Jewish, Sidney Brody. Eli Broad, another eventual chairman, was once listed by ArtNews to be (with his wife) the most important art collector in the world. (He is the chairman and CEO of SunAmerica). Erica Feinblatt was the curator of prints and drawings; Maurice Tuchman became the curator of modern art. An assistant to Tuchman was Stephanie Barron. "As a Jew," notes George Goodman, "she was also attracted to avant-garde works considered 'degenerate' by the Nazis." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 135] In 1984, Barron married a LACMA (Jewish) trustee, Robert Gore Rifkind.
Early Jewish donors of important art or large sums of money to LACMA included Joan Palevsky (who purchased for the museum the 650 objects in the Heermaneck Collection of Islamic Art), B. Gerald and Iris Canter (owners of the largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the world; New York's Metropolitan Museum has four galleries named after these philanthropists), Philip Berg, Hans Cohn, and Arthur Gilbert, among others. In 1997 Bernard Lewin, a furniture store owner, later art dealer, and "one of the world's preeminent collectors of modern Mexican artists," [JOHNSON, R., p. N1] willed his $25 million Mexican art collection to LACMA upon his death. The Los Angeles Times noted an exhibition of Lewin's collection at a public gallery three years earlier, curated by a Jewish academic in Latin American studies, Shifra Goldman:
"When a museum show consists entirely of works that are for sale at one
commercial gallery [as this one is] .... disappointment gives way to
disgust ... When Lewin ... decided to limit the scope of this show
to the stuff he'd like to sell, the die was cast ... [Nothing] can redeem
such a colossal commercial-cum-vanity showcase." [CURTIS, p. F1]
In 1974 Richard Sherwood (a member of the local American Jewish Committee) became the LACMA president. Further Jewish donators to the museum included David Lowe, Armand Deutsch, Michael and Dorothy Blankfort, Nathan Smooke, Philip and Beatrice Gersh, Stanley and Ellise Gringstein, Max and Ellen Palevsky, Robert Halff, Betty Asher ("formerly an assistant to Maurice Tuchman," now an art dealer), Felix and Helen Juda, Frederic and Marcia Weisman (sister of Norton Simon), Lucille Ellis (Norton Simon's first wife), Bernard Levin (a dealer), and Douglas Cramer (a television mogul).
In later years, Micheal Shapiro, a curator at the St. Louis Art Museum was chosen to head LACMA. "It would have been newsworthy for the County Museum to hire a woman, an African-American, an Asian, or a Hispanic, "says Jewish commentator George Goodman, "but few points would be scored [publicly] for hiring a Jewish director [this was, after all, the norm]. Nevertheless, the board members turned to Michael Shapiro. Shapiro's selection must have been intended to impress Jewish donors of the museum." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 135]
When Shapiro left, he was replaced by Andrea Rich in 1995. Rich had formally been the Executive Vice Chancellor of UCLA. As Goodman noted it in his article in Modern Judaism about what he calls the "Jewish Art Elite":
"For its first [combined] president and chief executive officer, LACMA's
trustees made a startling decision, hiring Andrea Rich ... A specialist in
communications and planning, she had never worked for an arts
organization and was not even a dues-paying member of the museum.
Ms. Rich is Jewish, however." [GOODMAN, p. 136]
In 1999, Rich also raised eyebrows by becoming -- along with her other administrative posts -- the director of the museum.
Elsewhere in southern California, other Jews were active in a virtual lock on important directorships in the art world. Aby Sher hired architect Frank Gehry (a fellow Jew) to build the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Edith Wylie even established the Craft and Folk Art Museum across from LACMA. In 1979 a number of prominent Jewish collectors including Marcia Weissman (who also donated $3 million to the now-called "Weissman Art Museum" at the University of Minnesota, as well as other funds to Minneapolis Walker Art Center) Eli Broad, Philip and Beatrice Gersh, Lenore Greenberg, Frederick Nichols, and Max Palevsky broke off from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to form the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Today's president of MOCA  is, of course, Jewish: Audrey Irmas. "Although [Director Richard] Koshalek deserves much of the credit for MOCA's success," says George Goodman, "he has several talented associates, among whom were the Jews Sherri Geldin, an administrator, and Paul Schimmel, previously a curator at southern California's Newport Harbor Art Museum." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 139] Noteworthy Jewish philanthropy to MOCA includes that of Barry Lowen, Marcia Weissman, and Taft and Rita Schreiber.
David Levanthol (of the Los Angeles Times) also serves as the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). In 1996 MOCA's "Temporary Contemporary" branch was renamed the "Geffen Contemporary" after a $5 million donation from media mogul David Geffen. Earlier, another $5 million gift had changed the Westhood Playhouse theatre near UCLA to the "Geffen Playhouse." The head of the Geffen Playhouse, Gilbert Cates, is also Jewish. He also "produces the Academy Awards programs and [he] put together the local Israel 50th anniversary celebration." [TUGEND, 10-22-99]
"Most people, I'd say 90% of donors want recognition of some sort," remarked Eli Broad, trustee of both the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has its own "Eli and Edythe Broad Reception Hall." [MUCHNIC, S, p. F1, 5] "For better or for worse," says Jewish critic George Goodman, "the museum world is full of -- and to a large degree formed by -- prima donnas. Collectors such as [early Jewish philanthropists] Blumenthal and Lehman wanted wings and galleries bearing their names. In recent years, however, a growing number of Jewish collectors have let their egos run wild." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 147]
Rich Jewish businessmen with enormous art hoards have also created major museums and named them after themselves in Los Angeles to house their collections: the Norton Simon Museum (the Simon's board of trustees "was led by Jennifer Jones, his second wife, and other relatives") [GOODMAN, #2, p. 147] and the Armand Hammer Cultural Center, respectively. "The boondoggle of the Hammer Cultural Center -- within a lifetime of [Armand Hammer's] fraud and deception," notes George Goodman, "is ... documented in Edward Epstein's biography of Hammer." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 141] [See also Carl Blumay's indicting biography of the ruthlessly corrupt Hammer]. Armand Hammer, notes the London Sunday Times, in a review of Epstein's book,
"was one of the great frauds of the 20th century ...The sordid details
of his astonishing life [are those of] myth, fakery, and deceit ....
[He was] a ruthless charlatan who bullied and betrayed his
way to an imposing reputation as billionaire patron of the
arts with a long list of powerful friends ... [Epstein] also details the
brazen forgery that helped build Hammer's extensive art collection.
One benefit of the tycoon's Russian connection was an official
Faberge stamp, given to him in Moscow, which he used to authenticate
fake Imperial jeweled eggs." [ALLEN-MILLS]
Hammer set up the L'Hermitage Gallery, selling Russian art, in New York City in 1925. Years later he later purchased 75% interest in M. Knoedler and Company, "America's oldest art gallery." His partner in the business was also Jewish, Maury Leibovitz. [EPSTEIN, 1996, p. 126, 293] In later years, a freelance writer, Martha Kaufman, became Hammer's mistress. Wearing wigs to hinder recognition by Hammer's wife, she also became the curator of Hammer's art collection and eventually the Director of the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center. [EPSTEIN, photo section]
After Hammer's death, various family members filed lawsuits against each other for parts of the patriarch's art collection. Others came to court too: "Occidental Petroleum [Hammer's company] stockholders were outraged at the squandering of company assets [for Hammer's personal art collection] which they claimed totaled $95 million." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 141] Hammer also, notes Elliot Horowitz, "identified himself ... falsely as a Unitarian Protestant throughout most of his life, even after becoming the CEO of Occidental Petroleum ... Later he became a great friend of the state of Israel." [HOROWITZ, E., Too, p. 196] He was once received the Golda Meir "Man of the Year Award" at an Israeli Bonds banquet. [BLUMAY, C., 1992, p. 416] (In 1987 he even flew Soviet Jewish dissident/refusenik Ida Nudel on his personal jet to Israel.) [NUDEL, I., 1990, p. 301-302]
Hammer also has a wing named after him and his wife at the Los Angeles County Art Museum. [BLUMAY, C., 1992, p. 436] At his own museum, the chiseling of his name in marble alone cost $75,000, the "Armand Hammer Fireplace" cost $25,000, and the marble floors cost $1 million. [BLUMAY, C., 1992, p. 454] In downtown Los Angeles, the Mark Taper Forum in the Los Angeles Music Center is named for wealthy Jewish patron S. Mark Taper. (Gordon Davidson, the current artistic director of the Taper/Ahmanson Theatre, is also Jewish). A few miles north, the Pepperdine University Art Museum in Malibu was renamed the Frederick R. Weissman Museum of Art in 1992 after his gift of $1.5 million. (The University of Minnesota also has an art museum named after Weissman; the San Diego Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art also contain "gallery complexes" that bear his name). Another southern California Jewish philanthropist, Mandell Weiss, was the main patron behind San Diego's Mandel Weiss Forum. With city public arts cutbacks, in 1993 Leah Goodwin lost her executive director job at San Diego's Public Arts Advisory Council. [TUREGANO, P., 9-30-93, p. E12] Also in San Diego, Mathew Strauss and his wife Iris organized Art Pac, a lobbying group for government funding to the arts. [TUREGANO, P. 2-13-95, p. D1] Phyllis Epstein, former chairman of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, was appointed to be a member of the California Council for the Arts in 1999. [JONES, W., 12-14-99, p. E14] State senator Adam Schiff, also Jewish, is chairman of California's Joint Committee on the Arts. [CITY NEWS SERVICE, 1-6-98]
In 1999 Glorya Kaufman donated $18 million to renovate UCLA's old Dance Building, now to be called Glorya Kaufman Hall. It was the largest arts-oriented donation in University of California history. Among those proclaiming public thanks was Daniel Neuman, Dean of UCLA's Art and Architecture School. (In earlier years, MCA's mafia-linked Hollywood mogul Jules Stein also founded UCLA's giant ostentatious medical wing, the Jules Stein Eye Institute). In 2000, Jewish businessman Eli Broad topped Kaufman, donating $20 million to UCLA's art department. The Dickson Art Center was to be renamed the Eli Broad Center.
After donating an undisclosed sum to the Orange County Performing Arts Center in metropolitan Los Angeles, Henry Samueli became a member of its Board of Directors. Samueli and his wife also gave $50 million to the UCLA and University of California at Irvine Engineering departments. "In exchange for the gifts," noted the Los Angeles Times in 1999, "the highly ranked UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and UCI's School of Engineering will bear Samueli's name." [CONWAY, A., 4-13-99, p. E1] Earlier, in 1987, another Jewish mogul, Harvey Stearn resigned as the Orange County Performing Arts Center Chairman of the Board; he remained chairman of the California Arts Council. That same year Leonard Shaine, "philanthropist long active in community and Jewish causes," was added to Orange County art center's Board. [JALAN, A., 8-21-87, p. 1] Jewish real estate mogul Walter Shorenstein "founded the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard's Kenneedy School of Government." [MOTHER JONES, 3-5-01]
From Texas in 1998, prominent Dallas art collector and real estate mogul Raymond Nasher donated $7.5 million to his alma mater, Duke University. The Duke University Art Museum would be moved to a new building, to be known as the Nasher Museum of Art. [DUKE, 11-98] In Austin, Texas, Mort and Angela Topfer "have pledged millions to the Austin Museum of Art, the Dell Jewish Community Center Campus and other charitable projects." [BARNES, M., 6-17-99, p. B1] Likewise, Jewish real estate developer John Price donated $7 million to the Museum of Fine Arts at his alma mater, the University of Utah (Price's JP Realty offices hold "one of the largest collections of Depression era lithographs in the country.")[KNUDSON, M., 3-23-97] In Omaha, Nebraska, Mort Richards was once president of Performing Arts Omaha. He also served as the top official for other local organizations, including the Downtown Rotary Club. "In 1978, he received the State of Israel’s' 30th anniversary award." [1-14-2000, p. 1]
Even the renowned Getty Museum, founded with funds from the non-Jewish oil mogul, J. Paul Getty (and with $4 billion to play with, the richest museum on earth) has consistently had Jews at the economic helm. In 1998, after 17 years, Harold Williams left the presidency of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Williams, notes George Goodman, was "raised in a Labor Zionist home in East Los Angeles." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 142] Williams had earlier retired as Norton Simon Inc.'s chairman of the board at age 42. He later served as the Dean of UCLA's Graduate School of Business and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the President Carter administration.
The new president of the J. Paul Getty Trust is another Jewish administrator, Barry Munitz, formerly the chancellor of both the California State University system and the University of Houston. Munitz's "current project," says Goodman, "is the renovation and expansion of the [Getty branch] in Malibu, which will open in 2001 ... The collections donated by Lawrence and Barbara Fleishman will be one of the highlights." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 144] The new Getty Center opened in 1998, designed by Jewish architect Richard Meier and built at a cost of $1 billion. Earlier, George Goldner had "launched the Getty's drawing collection." He later became the Getty curator of paintings and the curator of prints and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He was succeeded at the Getty by David Jaffe, a Jew born in England, and formerly of the National Gallery of Australia. (Even the president and CEO of the Getty Petroleum Corporation is Jewish, Leo Liebowitz; in 1993 he was charged by journalist Robert Friedman with being in cahoots in a tax cheating scam with a chief in the "Russian Mafia." [NATIONAL PETROLEUM, p. 20] )
"In Baltimore, Miami, Atlanta, and a host of other cities," says Charles Silberman, "cultural institutions are increasingly dependent on Jewish support." [SILBERMAN, p. 214-215] In Miami, for example, Jews were the "creators of the New World Symphony and the Miami City Ballet." [HURIASH, L., 2-15-99, p. B3] Joseph Meyeroff donated $10 million to the Baltimore Symphony hall, half its cost. [CHRISTOPHER, p. 214 ] Also in Baltimore, Robert Bergman became the director of the prominent Walters Art Museum in 1981. In his first decade he oversaw a $6 million museum renovation. Half a dozen wealthy Jews "have been among the Walters' most generous donors." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 123] "Some eyebrows," says Jewish author George Goodman,
"may have been raised at the awareness of Baltimore's Jewish 'Art
Mafia.' At the time, Arnold Lehman was director of the Baltimore
Museum of Art, Sergio Commissiona was music director of the
Baltimore Symphony (in Meyerhoff Hall), and Frederick Lazarus IV,
an arts administrator, was president of the Maryland Institute College
of Art. Also, Herbert Kessler, a medievalist ... , chaired the well-
regarded art history department at John Hopkins [University]."
[GOODMAN, #1, p. 123
By 1993, Director Bergman, by now the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, became director of the Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts. Bergman was replaced at the Walters Museum by another Jewish administrator, Gary Vikan.
Across town, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Florence Levy was the museum's first director; Gertrude Rosenthal was for decades the chief curator. Goodman notes that :
"When he was appointed the [Baltimore Museum of Art] director in
1971, at thirty-five years of age, Tom L. Freudenheim became one
of the nation's most visible Jewish museum professionals. Though
secure in his identity as a Reform Jew and a Zionist, he did not seek
recognition as a trailblazer. Indeed, he was somewhat puzzled as to
why the Museum's Board sought a Jewish director, especially one
with such obvious Jewish credentials. [GOODMAN, #2, p.129]
Perhaps Freudenheim needed only to look at the Museum's treasury for a solution to this puzzle. Prominent Jewish donors to his Baltimore museum included Helen and Abraham Eisenberg, Jacob Epstein, Julius Levy, Alan and Janet Wurtzberg, Robert and Ryda Levi, and Sadie May. The Museum's Etta Claribel Cone collection included over 3,000 pieces of art, including paintings by Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gaughin. Freudenheim's other credentials for his post included internships under prominent Jewish art custodians E. H. Gombrich, Panofsky, Ettinghausen, Alan Solomon of the Jewish Museum in New York, and Peter Selz, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art.
When Freudenheim eventually left the Baltimore Museum, he was replaced by another Jewish director, Arnold Lehman, a grandson of a founder of the Gimbels department store. Lehman eventually became director of the Miami Metropolitan Museum of Art and later the Brooklyn Museum. Like Bergman, Lehman has also been president of the Association of Art Directors.
When Lehman eventually left the Baltimore Museum, he was predictably replaced by yet another Jewish director, Doreen Bolger, whose credentials include museum directorships in Texas and Rhode Island (the largest gift to the Rhode Island museum she directed was from the Jewish benefactors Leonard and Paul Granoff).
Also in Baltimore is the American Visionary Art Museum, founded and directed by yet another Jewish powerbroker, Rebecca Hoffberger (formerly a development officer for the Associated Jewish Charities). AVAM's largest benefactor, of course, has been Jewish: Zanvyl Krieger. "Hoffberger," notes George Goodman, "remains active as a volunteer in Jewish organizations, and [is] devoted to Torah study." [GOODMAN, #2, p. 132]
In nearby Washington DC, by 1998 Jews in the upper ranks of the art world establishment included I. Michael Hegman (Secretary, "or Chief Administrator") of the Smithsonian Museum, real estate mogul Robert Smith (President of the National Gallery of Art), Allen Shestack (Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Art), Neil Benezra (Chief Curator of the Hirschorn Museum, where fellow Jew Stephen Weil recently retired as Deputy Director), David Levy (Director of the Corcoran Gallery -- his wife is a Vice President at PBS broadcasting), and Stephen Ostrow (Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Library of Congress). Jewish mogul Arthur Sackler's wing at the Smithsonian is the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, featuring Asian and Near Eastern art. Sackler's collection, noted one curator, is 'by far the largest and most important collection of ancient Chinese art in the world." [GLUECK, G., p. B8] Years ago, Jewish collector Joseph Hirshhorn's 6,000 art works were donated towards the creation of the Hirshhorn Museum. (Hirshhorn made most of his fortune in uranium mining).
Karl Meyer notes the context for the building (in 1974) of the Hirshhorn Museum -- so prominent on the Washington Mall -- as a government institution:
"The federal government was to pay the expenses of building a museum
bearing Hirshhorn's name; the design of the museum was to be subject to
Hirshorn's approval, with the title to the art passing to the government
only upon completion of the project; a ten-member governing board
was to be established, half of whose members would be nominated
by Hirshhorn, who also would nominate the director; and Hirshhorn
would not be required to supply an endowment to help meet future
operating expenses ... These terms aroused considerable disquiet
in the museum world, in good part because they were likely to
encourage other donors to demand equally one-sided arrangements."
[MEYER, K., 1979, p. 49-50]
(Hirshhorn's choice for the museum director position was Abram Lerner). [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 51]
As Sherman Lee, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, protested in 1966:
"It is a mistake to accept a collection of contemporary art formed
by one man and to use a large sum of money to house and administer
such a collection. If at least ten million dollars is available for a
building to bear, not the nation's name, but that of a donor, sufficient
funds aught to be available to set about the formation of a truly
catholic and articulated national collection housed in a building bearing
the collective name of all the people. Such a collection is already begun
in the National Collection of Fine Arts, now bypassed by this proposed
action." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 50]
In the midst of the controversy over the Hirshhorn museum, Washington newspaper columnist Jack Anderson "reported that Hirshhorn had been in legal trouble years earlier over alleged currency smuggling and stock manipulation." [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 50]
A highlight exhibition for 1988 at Washington's Capital Children's Museum (founder and director: Ann Lewin) was its Holocaust show. "The visiting children," noted the Washington Post," who are held to groups of 30, sit on the floor in an intimate room and are told the story of the Holocaust through a video narrated by a child. A dialogue, led by especially trained docents, some of them Holocaust survivors, follows." [GAMAREKIAN, p. B7] "[Lewin's] exhibit about the Holocaust, Remember the Children, " noted the Post years later, "has traveled around the country and partly inspired the permanent children's exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum." [KASTOR, p. B1]
By the 1970s Stanley Marcus (of Nieman-Marcus luxury store fame) was the Director of the Dallas Symphony Society, an Advisory Director of the Fort Worth Art Museum, a Trustee for the Public Television Foundation for North Texas, and even a Trustee of Southern Methodist University. Another Marcus, Richard, was on the board of the directors of the Dallas Theatre Center, the Dallas Council of World Affairs, and Assemblage, an organization of the wealthy who are interested in the arts. [COEVER, p. 123]
In 1993, the Director of the Milwaukee Art Center noted in an art catalogue that
"since 1957 ... the Jewish community has been central to the
development of the [Milwaukee] institution ... The list of members
of the Jewish community who have been monetary supporters of
the museum would be too long to elaborate here, as would the many
members of the Museum's Board of Trustees, presidents and officers
of that board's committee, and support group members, and
volunteers." [BOWMAN, p. 1]
In Detroit, prominent Jewish philanthropist/entrepreneurs include financier Max Fisher, Eugen Appelbaum (founder of Arbor Drugs), Sam Franiel (a real estate baron), and international glass magnate William Davidson. Davidson also owns the Pine Knob Music Theatre and the Palace of Auburn Hills, the two most popular music concert venues in the area. His companies also manage the Meadowbrook Music Festival. In Denver, Colorado, Barry Hirschfeld is "past board chairman of the Denver Art Museum." [PR NEWSWIRE, 3-21-96]
In Canada, Avie Bennett is (1992) vice president of the National Ballet of Canada; Judith Loeb Cohen became president of that organization in 1988. Louis Applebaum headed the Ontario Arts Council from 1971-1980, and was appointed in 1979 to "co-chair a federal review of Canada's cultural policy; he also helped raise funds for the National Arts Center Orchestra and served three years as its chairman. [CSILLAG, R., 5-4-2000, p. 6] In 1999 Peter Herrnsdorf, a baptized Jew, was named as the chairman and CEO of the National Arts Center. Garth Drabinsky (until recent financial scandals) owned the Pantages Theatre and also managed and operated the $50-million North York Performing Arts Center. In 2000, a pair of Jewish brothers "were named to head two of the most important government-owned cultural institutions in the country [Canada]." Victor Rabinovitch became president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corp., "the country's largest and busiest museum." (His brother, Robert, became president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Victor has also been on the Board of Directors for the Ottawa Jewish Community Center. [GORDON, S., 11-30-01]
In Australia, Graeme Samuel became Chairman of the Australian Opera in 1996. Peter Redlich retired from the chairmanship of the Victorian Arts Center in 1994, the same year that Nathan Waks became director of music at ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company). [SINGER/SELDIN, 1995, p. 359]
In England, the current director of the Tate Gallery (one of that country's most important museums with 2.2 million visitors a year) is also Jewish: Nicholas Serota. In a 1995 obituary to another prominent Jewish businessman, (Lord) Aby Goodman, the Times (of London) noted that, "Not content with being the chairman of the trusts for both the Observer and the Jewish Chronicle, he was at the same time Chairman of the Newspaper Publishers Association; hardly as he finished his second year term as Chairman of the Art Council than he popped up again as Chairman of the British Council." [HOWARD, A., 1-19-99] In his lifetime he was also Chairman of the English National Opera, president of the National Book League, Director of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, and a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. [BOGGAM, S., 1018-99, p. 4]
"Glance at the names of board members of major contributors [in Great Britain] to such institutions as the National Theatre and Covent Garden," suggests Jewish observer Stephen Brook,
"and the large proportion of Jewish individuals and organizations
will be apparent. Jonathan Miller ... argues that Jews mostly support
only the most prestigious institutions ... That I think reflects not so
much a commitment to the arts as a commitment to getting a place
in the British establishment. It's a short cut. You can buy your way
into the centre of the Establishment. I think it's rather pathetic."
[BROOK, p. 326]
An example of this is England's Arnold Goodman, a Jewish mogul who died in 1999. Goodman, notes the Financial Times of London,
"became successively or concurrently: chairman of British Lion
Films, the [London] Observer, the Newspaper Proprieters'
Association, the Committee of Inquiry into Charity Law, the
Arts Council, the Committee on London Orchestras, the
Housing Corporation, and the National Building Agency."
[He was also the Director of the Royal Opera House and
president of the Theatrical Advisory Committee]. [FINANCIAL
TIMES, 10-16-99, p. 4]
Corrupt Jewish early 20th century art dealer "Lord" Joseph Duveen also was a philanthropist to British art causes. Duveen
"underwrote the construction costs of entire galleries at the British
Museum, the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery, and the National
Portrait Gallery in London. (His generosity nonetheless piqued
Osbert Sitwell to demure: 'It is an ironical reflection that while
Lord Duveen's magnificient gifts to the nation stand as a memorial
to his name, much of the money that paid for them was earned by
the sale to the United States of the flower of eighteenth-century
and early ninenteenth-century English paintings. We have the galleries
now, but no pictures to hang in them.')" [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 180-181]
In Cleveland, Richard Bogomolny's $3 million gift to the Cleveland Orchestra -- the largest ever -- secured his position as president of the Board of the Musical Arts Association, the group that controls the orchestra. In Seattle, a new symphony venue is called Benaroya Hall, named in honor of the Jewish Benaroya family's benevolence to the arts. Also in Seattle, "megadonor" Samuel Strom (major philanthropist of the Strom Jewish Community Center, on Mercer Island) "headed the capital campaign" for the Henry Art Gallery. (Strom is also Chairman of the Seattle Symphony Board and a regent at the University of Washington). [BARGREEN, M., 4-27-97, p. N9] In Washington DC, Lessing Rosenwald donated a major collection of graphic art to the National Gallery. In Atlanta, Georgia, Ned Rifkind directed the High Museum until he moved to Houston to head the Menil Collection in 2001. Even in the hinterlands, in San Antonio, Texas, a museum director noted in 1964 that "the vast majority of [art] collectors are Jewish." [BRENNER, p. 323]
Even in a place like San Luis Obispo, California, Chris Cohan [owner of professional basketball's Golden State Warriors and Sonic Communications, a TV station conglomeration] "was a central figure in the building of San Luis Obispo's Performing Arts Center, donating $2.1 million and enduring a rash of bad publicity in a dispute over whether or not it would bear his name." [LYONS, ONLINE] In Anchorage, Alaska, the "Sydney Laurence Theatre" is part of the Alaska Center for Performing Arts. [ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 3-29-99, p. 2D] In the same genre, in Poland, Zygmunt Nissenbaum planned to provide funds to "renovate the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and affix a plaque with his name on it" at the site, a narcissistic idea which was "roundly rejected by most Jewish leaders." [WEINBAUM, L., p. 27]
As James Yaffe noted in 1968:
"Less than 1 percent of all contributors to Jewish charity are anonymous.
Donors not only like to have their names known, but immortalized. To
satisfy this desire many organizations have adopted the practice of
naming things after people. Hospitals give contributors' names to
everything from new wings to new oxygen tents. Brandeis University
has a Jewish name attached to nearly every building on campus. The
Israelis refer to the United States as Plaquistan." [YAFFE, J. 1968, p.
Howard Jacobson recounts his amazement about the wealthy Jewish donor name game while visiting the University of Judaism in Los Angeles:
"A list of the university's founders is done in gold lettering on marble
tablets in the hall of what is the SYLVIA AND DAVID WEISZ
EDUCATION WING, which is itself, as I understand it, part of
the SHIRLEY AND ARTHUR WHIZIN center, (dedicated to the
JEWISH FUTURE), which is in turn, as I further understand it, is
housed within the WILLIAM AND FRIEDA FINGERHUT
ACADEMIC BUILDING, a sub-branch of NORMAN AND
SADIE LEE COLLEGE. To get from SYLVIA AND DAVID'S
WING to the BESS AND ALEXANDER L. BERG DINING
CENTER (fed, incidentally, by a kitchen dedicated to the memory
of CELIA AND MORRIS I. PELLOW BY THEIR CHILDREN
JUDITH AND LOUIS), you have to negotiate the ELIE J.
AND RACHEL GINDI ENTRY PLAZA AND LOBBY."
[JACOBSON, H., 1995, p. 191-192]
In Boston, like anywhere else, censorship of art works and ideas is usually easily disguised via the rejection of artworks for completely subjective and nebulous "aesthetic reasons." And, of course, there is self-censorship by those who dare not offend those who economically control -- and legislate "philanthropic" power -- in the art world. An overt case of Jewish manipulation, however, occurred in 1991 when Steve Grossman, a Jewish board member of Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, resigned in protest of an ICA curatorial decision to show a series of films by Palestinian filmmakers. The Anti-Defamation League soon became embroiled in the matter, as well as high-profile Jewish lawyer Alan Dershowitz, forcing the Museum to present a concurrent screening of Israeli films, as well as an "educational forum" to address the Palestinian film's "political context, not artistic merit."
The injustice of the ICA decision to fall to Jewish pressure was not lost even to the curator of the Israeli film show, Ela Chohat, who said: "Can you imagine a program on black cinema where someone resigns if they don't have a white perspective?" [HARTIGAN, p. 75-76] (Balance me apartheid," says filmmaker Tom Hayes, about his own experiences with Jewish demands to weld their pro-Israel political opinions into any public expression of the Palestinian point of view, "or the Cheyenne, or the Japanese-Americans' experience during World War II, the slave's tales with the slave owners'." [HAYES, p. 6] "At any rate," noted the Boston Globe, "the upcoming Palestinian series prompted Grossman's resignation, which raised questions about the role of a board of directors in programming." [HARTIGAN, p. 75-76]
Likewise in Boston, in 1982, prominent British actress Vanessa Redgrave -- known for her sympathy to Palestinian causes -- was commissioned to narrate an oratorio for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She was ultimately fired. As Lenni Brenner notes:
"A key role in the dismissal [of Redgrave] was played by Irving Rabb, a
leading figure in Boston's Jewish establishment, and a member of the
Symphony's board of trustees." [BRENNER, p. 331]
(Redgrave sued, with the support of a variety of free speech organizations. She won what she would have been paid for the narration, but a federal judge ruled that she wasn't entitled to damages. And she also had to pay court costs).
Blatant censorship and/or information manipulation takes other forms of course. In New York, for example, in 1971 political artist Hans Haacke had his scheduled exhibition cancelled by the Director of the Guggenheim Museum, Thomas Messer. The curator for Haacke's show was then fired. Haacke's "art" show was a public revelation of the various slumlords on the Museum's Board of Directors. The New York Times noted that
"One of the real estate pieces that upset the Guggenheim [was] a
deadpan photo documentation of 142 mostly grubby buildings --
many in Harlem and on the Lower East side -- owned by [Jewish
mogul] Harry Shapolsky and associates, a major holder of minor
properties in the city." [GLUECK, #2, p. 27]
The Guggenheim Museum, declared its director, "was not the proper place in which to expose slumlords." [GLUECK, #2, p. 27]
In Montreal, Canada, in 1972 Jewish pressure "forced the Saidye Bronfman Center to cancel a production [of the play] The Man in the Glass Booth by Robert Shaw, a play about Adolf Eichman that had been performed, without outcry, in Israel itself." [PARIS, E., p. 99] In Canada, Jewish organizations decided the play was anti-Semitic. Two years later "the same kind of pressure obliged the Saidye Bronfman Center to cancel another event [An Evening with Dudley Kravitz]." [PARIS, E., p. 101] At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts there's a performing hall named after Jewish real estate mogul Max Cummings. [EISENTHAL, B., 5-24-01]
Elsewhere in the rolls of Jewish art patrons, in Forth Worth, Texas, prominent philanthropist Rosalyn Rosenthal is on the board of the Forth Worth Opera Association and she is a founder of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall. More curiously, she endowed the E.M. and Rosalyn Rosenthal Chair in Jewish Studies at Texas Christian University's Brite Divinity School.
Many Jewish art moguls also have some very politically-minded philanthropic interests. In Dallas, Stephen Felder Black was for two terms the president of the Dallas Symphony and a board member of the Dallas Chamber Orchestra. He was also, noted the Dallas Morning News in 1996,
"devoted to disseminating information about Israel ... Earlier this
year, Mr. Block worked to raise money so the Dallas Symphony
Chorus could perform in Israel .... At his funeral Monday, 40 members
of the symphony chorus sang the Israeli national anthem ... At the
time of his death, Mr. Black was chairman of the Israel Commission
of the Jewish Community Relations Council and on the
organization's national board." [SIMNACHER, p. 18A]
Another mogul/philanthropist, Joseph Meyerhoff, until he died in 1995, was extremely active in the art circles of Baltimore. But, notes the Baltimore Sun,
"If you think Meyerhoff is a prominent name in Baltimore, you should go
to Israel ... Meyerhoff ... was an ardent Zionist whose interest in Israel
started through his involvement with United Jewish Appeal. He was
also one of the first investors in Israel Bonds ... Contributions from him
and the foundation that was formed after his death are responsible [in
Israel] for the construction of 11 libraries, nine day care centers, several
community centers, cultural arts centers, the emergency wing at
Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and several buildings at universities
throughout the country .... 45 to 50 buildings in Israel bear the
Meyeroff name." [RIVERA, p. 2D]
In addition to all this, as sampling, a scanning of merely a few common, and easily recognized, Jewish names in an alphabetical list of American art institution officials (1997-98) revealed the following (selected here are only people at the pinnacle of their organizations or fields):
Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts: Samuel Sachs II. (The
Treasurer of this museum is also Jewish: Gilbert Silverman).
Chairman of the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati: Stanley
Public Affairs Director of the National Museum of African-American
Art in Washington DC: Janice Kaplan.
President and CEO of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry:
Executive Director of the Connecticut Historical Society: David Kahn.
Executive Director of the National Assembly of State Art Agencies in
Washington DC: Jonathan Katz.
President of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York
City: Nathan Leventhal.
President of the Society of American Graphic Artists: Martin Levine.
Director of the American Foundation for the Arts in Miami: May
President of the American Foundation for the Arts in Miami: Richard
Public Information Director for the International Center of
Photography in New York City: Phyllis Levine.
President of National Assembly of State Art Agencies, Washington
DC: Marvin Cohen.
President of the American Society for Aesthetics: Ted Cohen.
Executive Director of the of the Arizona Commission for the Arts:
President of the New York Artists Equity Association: Arnold
Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the McMichael Canadian Art
Collection in Ontario: Joan Goldfarb.
Chairman of the Art Academy of Cincinnati: Stewart Goldman.
President of the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies:
Executive Director of the Farrington Valley Arts Center in Avon,
Connecticut: Betty Friedman.
Director and Chief Curator of the Nova Eccles Harrison Museum of
Art in Logan, Utah: Steve Rosen.
Executive Director of the American Institute for Conservation of
Historic and Artistic Works: Sarah Rosenberg.
President of the Albuquerque (New Mexico) United Artists: Allan
Director of the Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Museum of Art: Ellen
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Brooklyn Museum: Robert
Commissioner of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs: Lois
Alan Stein was also Chairman of the Board of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco in the 1990s [WINN, S., 9-24-93, p. C1] and in 1995, also in San Francisco, "a traveling Jewish theatre [was] the lucky winner of a $150,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts ... [It was] one of only 44 arts organizations in the country (and the only theatre company in California) to receive that kind of NEA grant [that] year." [JAMISON, L., 3-8-95]
In the actual formation of art tastes and pedigrees, organized Jewry's influence in art market trends has occasionally been blatant. "[In the 1960s] at first 'relevance' meant exhibiting avante-garde art," says Sophy Burnham, "Some people date 'relevance' from the coming of Alan Solomon to the Jewish Museum in 1963. The Jewish Museum had been devoted for years to preserving the historic traditions in its vessels and chalices. Suddenly it turned about face and marched after contemporary art. It was a shock. Everyone was talking about the Jewish Museum and about Alan Solomon, the director. It was showing Rauschenberg, Johns, Larry Rivers, Richard Diebenkorn, Ken Noland, Jean Tinguely, [James Rosenquist] ... and later, an exhibit, a social documentary, of life on the [Jewish] Lower East Side... Before the decade was out, the other museums had turned to the chase -- the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, the Pasadena Museum ... [BURNHAM, p. 164]
Another seminal turning point in the modern art market was a 1973 auction of Jewish taxi-cab company-owner Robert Scull's collection of contemporary art. Scull was, says Stuart Plattner, "an early and avid pop collector whom the art world loves to despise for his boorish manners and transparent attempts to use art to increase his social position." [PLATTNER, p. 35] The auction was a stunning success and launched a flurry of investment interest in collecting this genre of contemporary art. The vast fortune Scull reaped from the sale of exploited artists (who were original paid a small fragment of the paintings' sale prices) caused artist Robert Rauschenberg to punch Scull in an auctiokn room. "I've been working my ass off just for you to make that profit," complained Rauschenberg. (One Rauschenberg painting Scull bought, for $900, sold for $90,000.) [MEYER, K., 1979, p. 183-184]
Art gallery sellings and buyings of important art are usually secret. The most important public gauge for art market prices are the results of art auctions. The most important art auction firm has been Sotheby's. [The other major auction house, Christies, was the subject of movement towards control in December 1997 by a consortium headed by the SBC Warburg company. [CORPORATE MONEY, p. 2-3] (Christie's chief curator for contemporary art, Neal Meltzer, is also Jewish). In 1966 the Rothschild Investment Trust bought 20% ownership of the Sothebys firm, [WATSON, p. 351] but by the early 1980s A. Alfred Taubman, by then "one of the world's richest men," a Jewish entrepreneur who made his fortune in shopping malls and real estate, purchased controlling interest in Sotheby's. (He was also married to a former Miss Israel). [HOGREFE, J., 1986, p. 127]
As a trustee of both the Whitney Museum and the Smithsonian, and now an art dealer, some critics complained, to no avail, that Taubman had a serious conflict of interest in his new buy. "Selling art has much in common with selling root beer," Taubman told the Wall Street Journal, "People don't need root beer and they don't need to buy a painting either. We provide them with a sense that it will give them a happier existence." [WATSON, p. 385]
In 1998 both Robert Lacey and Peter Watson authored separate books that exposed the scandalous inner workings of the Sotheby's company. Watson's expose was supported in part by BBC television; what he discovered, said CBS 60 Minutes reporter Morley Safar, "shook the art world to its foundations." [MYRPHY, p. 15] "A couple of decades on, Sotheby's," noted the Economist, "now controlled by an American property tycoon, Alfred Taubman, has grown beyond recognition. So, too, has its ethical malaise, according to Peter Watson, a British journalist and art-market expert." [ECONOMIST]
In text and on film, Watson documented Sothebys' international art smuggling operations, from Old Master paintings in Europe to religious artifacts in the Third World. Watson, noted Newsday
"focuses his story on James Hodges, a disgruntled antiquities
administrator in Sotheby's London office, who amassed thousands
of documents that outline the auction house's various alleged
malpractices, including smuggling. Hodges was later convicted
of the theft of two artworks from Sotheby's (which he claims
he was "holding" for dealers), but his documents constitute the
basis of Watson's investigations. Most shocking of all of Sotheby's
indiscretions is its alleged collusion in smuggling artworks out of
India. With his television crew, Watson visits a tiny Indian village
to find the home of a goat-headed stone goddess that was put up
for sale on Sotheby's London auction block. All that's left of the
local shrine, once the home of 20 such goddesses, is a pile of
rubble where the villagers still pray." [LEE, p. B13]
Watson told the New York Times that his investigations led him to believe that such practice at Sotheby's was "systematic." [IBRAHIM, p. A9] "Art crime," notes Richard Myrphy,
"... is far more pervasive than the occasional well-publicized dramas or
those crooked dealers' ploys would suggest. The statistics themselves
are sobering. According to a Cambridge University study, 30 to 40
percent of the world's available antiquities pass through the sale rooms
in New York City and London. Roughly 90 per cent of these pieces are
of unknown provenance, meaning they were almost certainly stolen,
smuggled, or both." [MYRPHY, p. 15]
Meanwhile, there is an image to be maintained. "Taubman's most public gambit," said Watson, in an earlier volume about the art world, "was to flood Sotheby's board [of trustees] with a raft of rich friends and acquaintances -- socialites in many cases -- whose job it was to bring in business and create the impression in the minds of prospective sellers, at least in he United States, that Sotheby's was a sort of club, membership in which conferred social status." [WATSON, p. 381] Among this group was Henry Ford II, for a while the vice-chairman at Sotheby's, who called himself Taubman's "token Gentile." [BERMAN, p. C1] (Price-fixing scandals at Sotheby's forced Alfred Taubman to step down as chairman of Sothebys in 2000, although he maintained controlling interest in the company. CEO Donna (Dede) Brooks also resigned with him. That same year, Sotheby's and Christies art auction houses agreed to pay $512 million to satisfy numerous class-action suits brought against them.) [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9-23-2000, p. C1] In May 2001, Taubman was indicted for price-fixing by a Federal grand jury. [SMITH/HIGGINS, 5-1-01, p. 1]
This elitist, status-laden attitude is not special to Sotheby's; it has long been the foundation of the modern art world. (In 1993 Sotheby's even successfully sold the ownership to the abandoned mechanical rover on the moon for $68,000, essentially a conceptual possession, an abstract play thing). High-brow art culture, noted Jewish sociologist Herbert Gans in 1974, serves "a small public that prides itself on exclusiveness." [DIMAGGIO, p. 142] Sociologists Paul DiMaggio and Michael Useem reiterated the same theme in 1989:
"Our findings clearly indicate that in this country the public for the visual
and performing arts is distinctly elite in levels of education, occupation,
income, and race. The statistics we were able to summarize from the
many studies reviewed show little indication of cultural democracy."
[DIMAGGIO, p. 163]
"Many [art] galleries go out of their way to be rude," wrote Sophy Burnham, "indeed, one rule of the art world might be that the more 'important' the gallery, the more haughty it will be ... The gallery of High Art is so discriminating, so refined, deals in such precious artistic sensibility and at such prices, that it affects an ambiance, commensurate with its wares." [BURNHAM, p. 30]
Among Taubman's Sotheby trustee appointees was the Jewish owner, Max Fisher, of United Brands, a company that was fined for bribing Honduras government officials in exchange for tax breaks. "Still," notes Watson, "Fisher was chiefly known for his enthusiastic fund-raising for Jewish and Israeli charities ... [He also] wrote Op-Ed pieces for the New York Times." [WATSON, p. 381] Fisher, longtime chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, gives half his multi-million dollar oil and real estate income each year to Israel and other Jewish causes," notes the (Jewish) Forward. [FORWARD]
The fact that Jews are so dominating in the art world is a reality that is very rarely publicly acknowledged. It is forbidden -- as always for anyone, anywhere -- to discuss the subject for fear of being branded "anti-Semitic." Typically, as example, an entire 1989 academic volume on the "Sociology of the Arts" fails to mention Jews as sociological entity in the modern art dynamic. There are analyses of art galleries, "artist groups," art patrons, and art audiences, broken down into gender, age, income, occupation, and even "racial and ethnic minorities." We can find that, negligibly, "blacks, Orientals, and persons of Spanish origin constitute about 7% of the art audience," but there is nothing whatsoever about Jews, even their own percentage of that "art audience," let alone how many art galleries they own, museums they direct, and articles they generate about art value. [FOSTER/BLAU, 1989]
This kind of false framing is endemic to modern America. (See, for example, a 1998 scholarly volume entitled Ethnic Identity and Power. Cultural Contexts of Political Action in School and Society. The index cites references to Blacks (large case), "white" (small case), "angry white males," Chicanos, Mexicans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Latino, Native Americans, Eskimos, Haitians, "Hmong people," Moroccans, and so on. There is nothing about Jews in the context of power and ethnicity -- they are not afforded a heading in the book's index). It is institutionalized: no one (certainly not a non-Jew) is allowed to single out Jewry for an analysis of their power. Those few who know the story are afraid to speak. Most are merely ignorant of the dimensions of the issue. Take, for example, American journalist Thomas Billitter's crusading article for truth, justice, and fairness, never mentioning Jewry in his critical appraisal of the mass media's systemic reluctance to hire minorities (i.e., Blacks, et al). Instead, Billitteri's mass media culprits are the standard punching bags -- the amorphous "whites," by which the very particularistic Jewish dominance in the mass media (especially at the highest decision-making strata) [See mass media chapter] is conveniently subsumed, and thereby, as always, hidden: "79% of television new personnel are white, and 88% of radio news workers are white. In management ranks, 92 percent of television and news directors are white. Only 1% of television news directors are black." [BILLITTERI, p. 19] Or what of the Los Angeles Times' dissimulative assertion in 2001 that "90% of each major [Hollywood] guild (Screen Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers) is white, the majority of them male." [Munoz, L., 3-24-01]
Art critic Peter Halley (self-identified as half-Jewish) took another angle on the "Forbidden to Be Spoken About" machinations of the modern art world, as represented by the ethnicity of many of today's most successful artists:
"It is my contention that the art world of the 1980s represented a kind of
renaissance for Jewish American artists who came of age in that decade.
The list of young Jewish American artists who took center stage in the
80's is long -- early in the decade we might think of Barbara Kruger,
Laurie Simmons, Sherrie Levine, R.M. Fischer, Donald Sultan, Julian
Schnabel, and David Salle. Later, the work of Ross Bleckner, Terry
Winters, Haim Steinbach, and Meyer Vaisman come to the fore ...
What originally motivated me to explore this subject [of growing
Jewish artist prominence] was the strange fact that there has been an
inexplicable silence surrounding it. Especially in this era of multicultural
awareness, it is surprising, to say the least, that no one has mentioned
this phenomena ... [HALLEY, p. 26-27] ...
One possible reason for this silence about a Jewish artist renaissance in
the 80's is that at the same time a great fluorescence of Jewish influence
in the areas of philanthropy, business, finance and the bastions of high
society was taking place ... By the 1980s ... in cities with large Jewish
populations, like New York, Jews had largely replaced the older WASP
elite as standard bearers of social power and prestige in the evolving
American postwar ethnic meritocracy."
Thus a new and yet unexamined social paradigm arose. Jews ... [who]
had championed the marginal culture of Modernism had suddenly
become the pillar of the American establishment. At the same time, a
new generation of Jewish artists was emerging whose work was collected
as often as not by Jews in the cultural elite as part of a continuing
tradition of Jewish support for contemporary art." [HALLEY, p. 28]
By the 1980s, from such artists, notes well-known art critic Robert Hughes, "never before had star artists been so bathed in adulation ... The doings of collectors, the gyrations of the market, the increasingly passive promotional role of museums. The whole social circus attached to the art world supplied limitless fodder for breathless journalists. Art magazines devolved into sycophantic praise-bulletins. Since the magazines depended on advertising, revenue from dealers who were not averse to applying pressure, 95 per cent of the writing published in them was the merest puffery, garnished with opaque Derridan and Lacanian jargon [Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan were two French -- and Jewish -- psychoanalytic philosophers]." [HUGHES, p. 594]
Hughes may have had Milton Esterow in mind when he spoke of the slide into purely money-grubbing, consumerist-spewing "art" magazines. Esterow, the Jewish owner and editor of ArtNews (America's largest circulation arts publication) and other media interests, was featured in the New York Times in 1995 in his quest "for more consumer, or general, advertising to go along with the substantial art advertising that has traditionally run his magazine." "Art collectors are passionate about beautiful things," Esterow said, "This is translatable to beautiful cars, beautiful clothes, exotic vacations. There is no better setting for beautiful things than our magazine." [SLOANE, p. D9] Esterow noted new ads from Infiniti cars and Rolex watches in his publication. Promotional plans also included an allowance for automobile advertisers to "place a new car in front of a major museum during a particular exhibit," and an alcohol company "to hold a tasting at an important art fair."
[SLOANE, p. D9]
The Jewish influence in "art photography" -- as artists as well as dealers, critics, photographers themselves, and curators-- is overwhelmingly dominant. This is certainly in part due to the fact that many photographic artists seep over into the High Art realm from positions of Jewish predominance in hard-to-get advertising, fashion, and photojournalism positions, each deeply part of the business world (Annie Liebowitz at Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, for instance, or Arthur Penn, Richard Avedon, and Helmut Newton at Vogue and other slick magazines). Even maverick Robert Frank took a vacation to Peru early in his career "because he wanted to escape the commercial success he was beginning to have in New York shooting for fashion magazines." [WESTERBECK, p. 645] Anthony Heilbut notes that "during the 1930s, American notions of physical beauty were altered by the [Jewish] émigrés, a neat reversal of the pattern that once led East European Jews to celebrate icons unequivocally gentile and heterosexual. Fashion photographers like Horst and Erwin Blumenthal specialized in tableaus of exotic, androgynous women." [HEILBUT, p. 492]
In England, in 2001 Gemma Levine had a career retrospective at London's National Portrait Gallery. She "is one of Britain's leading portrait photographers ... Her career in photography was initiated by a commission from [Jewish publishing mogul] George Weidenfeld to take photographs for two books in Israel in collaboration with [Israeli heroes] Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir." [absolutearts.com, 2001] Rock and roll photographer Gered Mankowitz had a restrospective exhibition the same year:
"Best-known for his work as the unofficial photographer for the Rolling Stones
in the late 1960s, Mankowitz didn't just take pictures, he created some of the
most enduring images of that era. Working with talents such as Jimi Hendrix
and the Stones, he produced the kind of photographs that led nice teenagers
astray to worship at the altar of rock ... Now 55, the photographer has been
creating pop images for so long he has become part of the mythology himself.
As integral to swinging London's music scene as flowing hair and weed,
Mankowitz's studio was in the heart of it all." [SCOTSMAN, 11-13-01]
Jacques Lowe, son a German father and Jewish mother, was John F. Kennedy's personal photographer. Lowe "became an assistant to the renowned [Jewish] photographer Arnold Newman, who became his mentor." Lowe founded the Visual Arts agency (later called Visual Arts Projects). [JFK, 2001]
An émigré from Europe in 1938, for decades Miki Denhof was a "noted mentor of fashion photographers" at Esquire, Vogue, House and Garden and Glamour. Her big break was to be hired at Vogue by (fellow Jewish) art director Alexander Lieberman in 1945. She once donated 900 photographs from her father's personal collection to an exhibition entitled "Fighting for the Fatherland: The Patriotism of Jews in World War I." Denhof's influence in the fashion world was so influential that her death in 2000 merited an article in the New York Times. [HELLER, S., 8-6-2000] (The editor-in-chief for 17 years at Vogue was Grace Mirabella, an Italian-American. Her husband, William Cahan, was a wealthy Jewish doctor and socialite; his cousin, Abraham Cahan, founded and edited the Yiddish language Jewish Daily Forward. [MIRABELLA, 1995, p. 167] At her wedding to Cahan, "the Jewish custom in weddings is to step on a glass and break it. So, after we'd kissed, Nate [Cummings, a Jewish friend] brought out a glass wrapped in a napkin, and Bill had to stomp on it. Nate then picked up the pieces, still wrapped, and had them affixed to a canvas background, which he framed. The collage now hangs in our home, like an abstract painting." [MIRABELLA, G., 1995, p. 175] She notes that "photographers were becoming big stars too" in her era, particularly noting Jewish Vogue photographers Bert Stern who "could only work with ten assistants in his studio," Richard Avedon, and Arthur Penn.] [MIRABELLA, G., 1995, p. 121-122] Jewish novelist Judith Krantz notes the Jewish complexion of her photography connections:
"Well-known [Jewish] fashion photographer" Milton Greene "and I became
good friends. It was a world of interrelationships. Milton's ex-wife Evelyn
was engaged to [famous Jewish portrait photographer] Dick Avedon ...
He already had an aura of a vast future about him, a photographer version
of the young [Jewish conductor] Leonard Bernstein ... Later, when I became
a fashion editor, I was always galvanized when we worked together."
[KRANTZ, J., 2000, p. 128-129]
In the field of photojournalism, three of the original six staff photographers for Life magazine were Jewish (Carl Mydans, Margaret Bourke-White, and Alfred Eisenstadt). "Within a few years Jewish photographers Fritz Goro, Eliot Eliosofon, Dmitri Kessel, and others (Curt Gunther, Hebert Gehr, Yale Joel, Hy Peskin, Paul Schutze, Mark Kaufmann, Nina Leon, Ida Wyman, Arthur Shay, Lawrence Schiller, Henry Groskinsky, Jill Krementz, and Neil Leifer) became staff or contract photographers." "From the 40s to 70s Philip Stern "was known as Life's photographer in Hollywood." Look magazine was founded in 1937. "For most of its years the Director of Photography," notes George Gilbert, "was Arthur Rothstein." [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 60, 78] The successful "A Day in the Life" series of coffee table photography books (A Day in the Life of -- the United States, Russia, Israel, etc.) have been headed by two Jewish photojournalists, Rick Smolan and David Cohen.
An influential documentary photography organization from the late 1930s to the 1950s was the Photo League. "The overwhelming majority of members of the 200-plus group," notes George Gilbert, "including photographers from Life and from the photo agencies were of Jewish heritage." Jewish photographers Sid Grossman, Sol Libsohn, and Aaron Siskind founded the group in 1932. [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 230-231] Another influential organization, the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP), was created in 1944. "Starting with 30 paid-up members," notes Gilbert, "... the group leaped into prominence in the industry, boasting an estimated three of four of all eligible magazine photographers as members. The initial roster, with an exception of two, were all of Jewish heritage." [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 237]
Famous turn-of-the-century social documentarian Lewis Hine wasn't Jewish. But the man who controlled his estate at his death, Walter Rosenbaum, was. In 2001, the Times of London reported that
"The FBI has begun an investigation into the suspected forgery of hundreds of
works by one of America's most famous photographers. Tests showed that
numerous 'vintage' prints by Lewis Hine, who is revered for his social realist
pictures from the Depression, were printed on paper not available until more
than a decade after his death in 1940. The investigation was prompted by a
complaint from a dealer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, about Hine's longtime
collaborator, Walter Rosenbaum, an acclaimed war photographer and the
former president of the Photo League co-operative where Hine left his
archives ... This year [Rosenbaum] was reported to have reached a
confidential settlement out of court with six dealers to create a 690,000
pound fund to reimburse buyers of between 300 and 500 Hine prints
who were unhappy with their purchases." [TIMES OF LONDON, 8-17-01]
Prominent Jews in the photographic publishing field have included the founders (William Ziff and Bernard Davis) of Popular Photography magazine, the associate publisher of Modern Photography, the photo page editor of the New York Times, the publisher of Photo Dealer magazine, the publisher of Photo Weekly, and so on. [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 306] Laura Levitt notes the increased interest in the photographic publishing world in Jewish subjects:
"Since 1996 there has been a proliferation of exhibits on Jews and
photography across the United States ... [There are also] explicit
photographic collections about Jews [that] are increasingly being
marked as identifactory texts. As I read it, this larger situation of
loss [of the Jewish past] helps account for the growing market
for picture books about American Jews." [LEVITT, L., 2000, p. 90,
Critic James Twitchell calls the omnipresent merger of modern art and business advertising these days "adcult," and the medium of photography plays a central role. The photographic work of Richard Avedon is a case in point, reflecting the interconnected back scratching of the art and corporate elite. Concerning an Avedon exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art, Twitchell notes that:
"Si Newhouse's Advance Publications owns the New Yorker, which gave
Avedon more-than-usual space in the week of the show's opening. The
co-publisher of the exhibition catalog, with an essay by New Yorker art
critic Adam Gopnik, is Random House, which is owned by Newhouse.
Among the six speakers at the Whitney symposium connected to the
show were Random House's CEO Harold Evans and writers Brendan Gil
[author of a New York Review of Books article accusing the great
folklorist Joseph Campbell of anti-Semitism] and Ingrid Sischy who
write for ... the New Yorker. The curator of the show was Jane
Livingston who does not work for the Whitney but for Avedon, who
used a grant from Kodak to pay for the show and the catalog.
Synergies, anyone?" [TWITCHELL, p. 227]
Elsewhere in the criss-cross into the art world, for years too Cornel Capa (born Karol Friedman) has run the important International Center for Photography in New York City. Capa's brother, Robert Capa (Andreas Friedman), was a founder of Magnum, the seminal photojournalism agency. Tom Freudenheim notes that "many of the works [of a "Jewish art" exhibition under his review] are by the most significant photographers of the century and indeed, it can probably be demonstrated that this is a medium which, unlike painting and sculpture, was moved primarily by men and women who were Jewish." [FREUDENHEIM, p. 28] "Photography has been dominated by Jewish photographers from the 1920s through the 1980s," says Tom Bamberger, himself both a Jewish photographer and adjunct curator of a Milwaukee art museum. [FREUDENHEIM, p. 28] Even the famous photography repository -- the Bettman Archives -- was Jewish-founded, by Otto Bettman, as was Simon Guttman's London-based international news and photography agency, Report.
Aside from a core of west coast nature photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Wynn Bullock and scattered others across photographic history, there are comparatively few non-Jews who have cracked Jewish dominance of the upper echelon of art-world status in photography. A history of American (and -- as many were immigrants -- even international) photography reads almost like a history of Jewish photography. A partial list of well-known Jewish photographic artists and/or recurring grant and award winners must always start with the gigantic influence of Alfred Stieglitz. "It was Alfred Stieglitz who was to define the parameters of American ideas about photography's emotional and expressive potential" [CRICE, p. 661]; his magazine Camera Work and 291 gallery were seminal in moving the "tangible acceptance of photography to the domain of art patrons and other buyers." [BUNNELL, p. 314] As John Pultz notes: "Steiglitz had been the major force in avant-garde America photography for over forty years. He had exerted his will, and would continue to do so, not only through his own photography but also through the three photography periodicals he had edited between 1893 and 1917 and the three New York galleries he was to run between 1905 and his death in 1946. [PULTZ, p. 484]
"The capitalist concept of the art work [was] a singular rare object," notes Peter Bunnell, "with a measure of its importance provided by the extent of its economic value ... The development of the private gallery, of organized marketing activity replete with regular exhibitions and published criticisms was an American contribution. Largely an urban phenomena, it was orchestrated out of New York by the country's leading practitioner and spokesman for photography, Alfred Stieglitz ... [BUNNELL, p. 314] ... [He] appl[ied] capitalist economics to the appreciation and acceptance of art. Steiglitz clearly positioned himself at the center of power and he was the major spokesman for Pictorial photography [an early genre of self-conscious "art" photography]." [BUNNELL, p. 315] In 1993, a 1920 "art" photograph by Steiglitz of artist Georgia O'Keefe's hands and a thimble sold at auction for $398,500, the highest price ever paid for a photograph. Another Stieglitz print went for $107,500. [NYT, 10-9-93, p. A11]
A partial list of celebrated Jewish photographers includes Paul Strand (Stransky), Richard Avedon, painter-photographer Robert Rauschenberg, Herb Ritts (another "photographer of the stars"), Eric Salomon, Alfred Eisenstadt (the "father of photojournalism"), Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitsky), Robert Capa (Endre Friedman), Cornell Capa, Laslo Moholgy-Nagy, Andre Keretsz ("among the most influential photographers in Paris in the 1920s" [WESTBECK, p. 35], Margaret Bourke-White (her father, originally Weiss, was Jewish. She was "surely the twentieth century's most famous woman photographer" [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. ix], William Klein, Helen Levitt, Aaron Siskind, famous ambulance chaser Weegee (Arthur Fellig, whose father was a rabbi), Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand, Diane Arbus (whose major photography influences were Lisette Model [originally Elise Felice Amelie Seybert] and Marvin Israel), Irving Penn, Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz, Duane Michaels, Lewis Baltz, Carl Chiarenza, Michael Bishop, Werner Bischof, Roloff Beny, William Wegman (famed for his in-joke photos of his dog named "Man Ray"), Richard Misrach, Arnold Newman (whose Israeli-born wife was a "one time member of Haganah, the pre-state Israeli underground army" [WALMAN, p. 303], Eve Arnold (originally Cohen: the first woman in the influential Magnum Photo agency), David Seymour (born Szymin, a co-founder of Magnum), Brassai (Gyula Halasz), Susan Meiselas, Cindy Sherman, Walter Rosenblum, Arthur Olman (also the Director of San Diego's Museum of Photographic Arts), Ruth Orkin, Larry Sultan, Jerry Uelsmann, Judy Dater [Lichtenfeld], Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Elliot Erwitt, Danny Lyon, Larry Fink, Art Kane (Arthur Kanofsky), Jay Meisel, Nan Goldin, Simpson Kalisher, Joe Rosenthal (who took the staged photograph, which has become a patriotic icon, of soldiers planting an American flag at Iwo Jima), Ralph Gibson, Helmut Gernsheim, Phillipe Halsman, Ernest Haas, Annie Leibowitz, Roman Vishniac, John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfelde), Gisele Freund, Sandi Fellman, Abigail Heyman, Lauren Greenfield, Arthur Rothstein, Doris Ullman, Rebecca Lepkoff, Sandra Weiner, Andreas Feininger, Lotte Jacobi, Inge Morath, Lynne Cohen, Rosalind Soloman, Milton Resnick, Donald Blumberg, Baron Adolf de Meyer, Ellen Land-Weber, Eva Rubinstein, Dennis Stock (Stockl), Mark Cohen, Paul Diamond, Ray Metzker, Arthur Tress, Peter Simon, Marcia Resnick, Helmut Newton (whose sado-masochistic images for glamour magazines have been seminal to the heroin-addict look in fashion photography criticized by President Clinton in the 1990s), and many others. [See for example, George Gilbert's compilation of Jewish photographers].
"It is impossible to deny the impact [Helmut Newton] has made, on fashion photography in particular," noted England's The Independent in 2001,
"To radical feminists, Newton is the antichrist. This is the man who
photographed a woman on all fours with a saddle on her back,
and another sitting on her underwear or an unmade bed, with a gun
in her mouth ... Newton's vision is fuelled by sex, status, power and, above all,
voyeurism ... Small wonder, then, that much of the photographer's most successful
imagery has become far more famous than the garments he has chosen
to photograph ... Newton's influence is everywhere ... In the Sixties and Seventies,
Newton's decadent vision may have been labelled 'porno chic,' but today the rest
of the world has finally caught up with him and it's just plain chic. There is
barely a stylist, photographer or designer working in fashion today who can
fail to acknowledge Newton as an influence ... Helmut Newton was born to middle-class
Jewish parrents in Weimar Berlin in 1920, and the decadent spirit of that place at that
time is imprinted on his work ... Accusations of misogyny are still constantly
made against Newton's work." [FRNKEL, S., 5-9-01]
Les Krims' "taste for the bizarre -- deer slayers, dwarfs, murdered women, and naked Jewish mothers making chicken soup -- made him one of the most controversial artists of the 1970s." [RICE, p. 677] Krims' work "would also be seminal," notes Shelly Rice, "to the works of Joel Peter Witkin, a young photographer who is continuing, into the 1990s, to explore the domain of the mysterious. Attracted to the bizarre, like Krims and, before him, Diane Arbus, Witkin photographs transvestites, deformed people, dead fetuses, and other strange phenomena." [RICE, p. 678] Also Jewish, a Witkins relative, Lee, founded the Witkin Gallery in 1969 which "experienced great success and became the first commercially viable gallery devoted entirely to photography." [ALEXANDER, p. 697] (Among many influential photography galleries were those run by Stephen White in Los Angeles and Marjorie Neikrug Raskin's Neikrug Galleries in New York (specializing in antique photography. Charles Traub, also Jewish, was the director of the influential Light Gallery). Vicki Goldberg is one of many prominent Jewish critics of photography.
In 1999, another Jewish photographer, Nan Goldin, was provided a one-person show of her work at Prague's Galerie Rudolfinum, a spectacular art facility in that beautiful city. Goldin's show, sponsored by New York's Whitney Museum of Art, framed her as an ambassador of American art and culture to the Czech Republic. And what was the show like? Large scale color Cibachrome prints of the decadent and violent American underworld decorated the elegant museum walls, including huge confrontational images of drug addicts masturbating.
Another Jewish photographer is Peter Basch. His "photographs for male-oriented publications won him the reputation of having photographed 100,000 nude women." [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 60] Daniel Howard Cohen died of AIDS in 1995. He was "an educator who grew up in Baltimore and went from being an outlaw leftist to running the photography program at one of the nation's most prestigious journalism schools ... [He joined] the leftist Weathermen group in the 1960's. He went underground for several years while he was wanted by the law." [BALTIMORE SUN, 4-17-95]
Europe's August Sander is also regarded as a seminal influence in the development of documentary photography. Roman Vishniac is another well-known name. Probably the most famous current Polish photographer is expatriate Ryszard Horowitz, a Holocaust survivor, now living in New York City. The best known photographer from Brazil? Sebastian Selgado, also Jewish. Jewish cameraman Yevgeny Khaldei was described by one newspaper as "the greatest Soviet war photographer." [PIRANI, S., p. 11] W. W. Waglieff Schapiro was the Tsar of Russia's official "Court Photographer." [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 135]
A Jewish refugee from Germany, Laslo Mohology-Nagy, founded Chicago's Art Institute of Design. Prominent Jewish graduates have included Aaron Siskind, Nathan Lerner, Arthur Siegel, Ray Metzker, Ken Josephson, Barbara Crane, and Eileen Cowan, among others. [WESTBECK, p. 656] More commercially, Morris Germaine founded "Germaine's School of Photography," H. P. Seidel founded the "School of Modern Photography," and "on the west coast today's prestigious Brooks School of Photography also had its start early in the twentieth century by a Jewish family." [GILBERT, G., 1996, p. 79]
"By 1963," notes Stuart Alexander, "the teaching of photography at the university level had become such a significant force in the United States that, under the instigation of Nathan Lyons [formerly of the George Eastman House] the Society of Photographic Education was founded to 'discuss educational issues ... It has its own internal hierarchy and exerts a great influence on American photography." [ALEXANDER, p. 701] In intellectual cliques, German-born Walter Benjamin is among the best known of "photo-mechanical" theorists. "Benjamin," notes George Mosse,
"consciously [sought] to define his own brand of Judaism. Benjamin,
barely out of school at the age of twenty, rejoiced in his newly
discovered Jewish identity. Jewish intellectuals, he wrote in 1912,
provide the principal support and dynamic for true culture, which
in this case included not only literature and art but also socialism
and the women's emancipation movement. Among Jewish intellectuals,
he continued, writers were in the vanguard of change ... [Jews] took
a central role in creating alternatives to the existing order ... Benjamin's
preoccupation with Jewish thought, which for a time, under the
influence of close friend Gershom Scholem, seemed to shift
Benjamin's early definition of Jewishness toward a sporadic interest
in cabala [Jewish mysticism] and Zionism." [MOSSE, G., 1985,
In 1997, George Gilbert published a volume that identified over 500 Jews who have been prominent in the field of photography as photographers, critics, scientists, or curators. As Jewish critic A. D. Coleman observed about the volume, "this selection can't exhaust the list of prospects, indeed it barely scratches the surface (as a parlor game of sorts, I sat with a friend for two evenings and compiled a list of at least one hundred figures Gilbert missed)" ... [These "hundreds and hundreds" of Jews are] so integral to photography's history as we habitually think of it that a written version of that history excluding these figures is difficult to imagine." [COLEMAN, A., D., 1998]
Among the most important genres of photography is the so-called "New York School." It is overwhelmingly Jewish (two-thirds of the important artist selections for one book by curator Jane Livingston on this theme are Jews). "In its art historical usage," says Coleman,
"the term 'school' connotes a connectedness among a group of
artists that goes beyond mere friendship and social interaction to
deeper levels of bonding and influence: master-apprentice relationships,
stylistic kinships, parallel and overlapping trains of thought, and
general agreement on what the important questions are in the
field -- what the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn would call
a shared paradigm." [author's emphasis, COLEMAN, A., D., 1998]
This "shared paradigm," of course, is intellectual doubletalk for a "collective world view" or, more pointedly, ideological collusion.
Why such Jewish dominance of the field, Coleman wonders? Or, as he literally says, "How are we to make sense of this?" What Coleman, as all, fail to willfully address is the obvious: Jewish networking and hustling, Jewish predominance in the mass media, Jewish economic dominance of the art world, Jewish power, Jewish money, and the connective agreement upon what does, and what does not, fall within the realm of artistic "quality." For the "New York School," Coleman suggests its core is "stylistic rebelliousness and intellectual contention." "All of them," he adds, "Jewish or not, were functioning in the liberal-left bohemian intellectual atmosphere of New York City at the time, which was strongly Jewish-influenced. It was an environment in which an urban-Jewish atmosphere permeated everyone's thinking, including that of many non-Jews." [COLEMAN, A. D., 1998]
In another case, Paris-based Michel Frizet's massive international English-language (1998) volume entitled "The New History of Photography," features an article by critic Colin Westerbeck, "On the Road and in the Street: The Post-War Period in the United States." Of the 23 photographs illustrating the article, at least 16 images (and perhaps as many as 20) are by Jews. [WESTERBECK, p. 641-659] William Klein and Robert Frank are noted as seminally influential to a new aesthetic: both are also Jewish. Klein's world view in photography is quintessentially Jewish in its animosity towards Gentiles. Klein moved to Paris, says Westerbeck, because
"He had needed to escape from New York because, as a poor Jewish
child in a tough Irish-Italian neighborhood, he had spent his youth being
terrorized by street gangs. By the time he went back, in the early 1950s,
photography was, for him, he has confessed, a 'weapon' with which 'to
get even.' He wanted his photographs to reveal the harshness of life on
the New York streets, and he realized that the way to do so was to
cultivate in himself a killer instinct for pictures as ferocious as the primal
emotions he wanted to betray in his subjects." [WESTERBECK, p. 644]
The huge, scholarly volume from which this quote is taken declares itself to be the "new" history of photography. And even this book about photographic image-making devotes an entire obligatory page to the specialness of the Holocaust, a brief article (entitled "The Final Solution") and four photographs. (No such special attention is provided any world wars or anyone else’s' collective suffering, genocidal or otherwise). The author of this article, Anne Lilensztein, assets that surviving photographs of the "Final Solution" evidentially prove that the Holocaust occurred: "Testimonies of this madness have been brought to us ... above all [by the] photographic ... Thus photography is the tangible proof of one of the greatest tragedies of contemporary history." [LILENSZTEIN, p. 600]
The proof cited for this assertion is four Nazi-era photographs -- a pile of naked corpses captioned "Buchanwald, 1946," and a three-portrait series of a woman entitled "Records of an Inmate at Auschwitz, circa 1943." There is, as usual, no mention in the text that anyone other than Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, or that millions of other people died at fascist hands in other ways too.
The article's stated purpose is to declare that photography played an important role in "proving" the atrocities against the Jews. And, as always, the bias against non-Jewish suffering is intrinsic -- who can say with absolute certainty that the pile of anonymous corpses depicted are only Jewish? And even if they are, far more indicting to the author's (and editor's) ethnocentric premise is that, although non-Jews are never mentioned as victims in the piece, the three portrait photos of an Auschwitz prisoner illustrating "proof" of the Final Solution against Jews depict a female prisoner who is, incredibly, not Jewish.
The woman in these images [page 600] has a Nazi-created card in the photograph with her prisoner number noted: it is "POL:F 31848." In the second photo, a patch with her number and a triangle can be clearly seen sewn to her prison uniform. Tadeusz Iwaszko, in an authoritative volume published by the Auschwitz Museum in Poland, notes that: "Besides being tattooed, another element in the registration process for new arrivals [at Auschwitz] was being photographed in three poses. In the first photograph, a profile, the camp number was visible as well as letter symbols for the category and nationality of the prisoner. Jewish prisoners, who had begun to arrive in mass transports in 1942, were not photographed. (There were certain exceptions to this general rule)." [IWASZKO, p. 61] But even if these photographs in question were such exceptions, Nazi concentration camp prisoners were identified by both tattooed numbers and sewn cloth patches (or painted) symbols on their clothing. A red triangle was a political prisoner, a green triangle meant "professional criminal," a black one were so called "anti-social" prisoners (including prostitutes, gypsies, and others. Violet triangles signified Jehovah's witnesses; the Catholic clergy had red triangles and homosexuals pink ones. "Jews," notes Iwaszko, "were identified with a six-sided star, composed of two triangles of different colors ... [Later] Jews began to be identified by the same method as the other prisoners, except that a yellow square patch would be positioned above the single triangle." [IWASZKO, p. 63-64] [See the photographic section before page 33 in Auschwitz: Nazi Death camp, edited by Piper/Zwieback for photographic examples of the different identification symbols and portraits for Jews and Poles].
The Nazis were of course meticulous in their delineation of ethnic/racial backgrounds. The letters "POL" or "POLE," and then a number series, denoted a Pole. "JUDE," followed by a series of numbers, denoted a Jew. Hence, three of the four photographs used to "prove" the Final Solution against the Jews in the New History of Photography are those of a non-Jewish Auschwitz inmate. Why belabor this? Because such an error is systemic in western cultures today. In an otherwise meticulous scholarly enterprise of such international scope, this mistake is no mere oversight. The appropriation of the image of an unnoted Gentile concentration camp victim to "prove" the indisputable facts of the Jewish Holocaust is a surrender to the constant historical revision barrage in all realms of life today whereby only Jews count, and even photographic evidence of non-Jews at Auschwitz is appropriated as further, irrefutable evidence for the uniqueness of Jewish martyr logy. There is a profound lesson here that subverts the very thesis of the Final Solution article in the History volume. Even as the author heralds the absolute truth of photographic evidence, her illustrations -- as any photographs -- are always susceptible to contextual manipulation. In this case, as elsewhere, the widespread, monolithic presumption about the specialness of a Holocaust only for Jews precedes all and any facts on the matter. Yet, ironically, the images used in this book in question actually subvert what the author seeks to illustrate, i.e., that it was only Jews who died in a Holocaust-Final Solution at Auschwitz.
The overwhelming Jewish dominance in all realms of art and photography leads us to one place where, in very recent years, some non-Jews have managed to get considerable attention for their photographic work. In the late 1980s American art went through a convulsion of controversy when religious leaders and elected politicians began attacking -- and legislating against -- what many perceived as decadent modern art values. Seminal among the troublemakers was the work of Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe (both photographers), and Karen Finley, each in some form rewarded for their efforts by the National Endowment for the Arts. Andres Serrano's most controversial piece was a photograph of Christ on a crucifix in a container of urine, entitled Piss Christ. Mapplethorpe -- who has died of AIDS -- was celebrated in an NEA-funded retrospective of his works including homosexual sadomasochism, for example, elegant photos of a man peeing into another's mouth and one in which a fist goes up a rectum.
Karen Finley is a performance artist whose central theme was described in one review as "victimization, especially women as victim, women as underclass, tough stuff ... she casually peels off her dress and pours gelatin into her bra ... she lathers chocolate over her body ... strikes blobs of bean sprouts over body and calls it sperm." [EVANS, p. 209]
None of these controversial artists are Jewish. However, as Micheal Medved pointed out about the largely Jewish-run entertainment media, it should also be of serious concern here that in a field so dominated by Jewish curators, collectors, critics, and dealers, such material is not only heavily supported, but encouraged and glorified. And rewarded.
(A similar kind of incident occurred in 1998 in Great Britain when two Jewish women, Amanda Moss and Marissa Carr [a former stripper], self-described as the Dragon Ladies, "female sexual entertainment," were awarded nearly $10,000 from the British Arts Council. Joe Ashton, a member of Parliament, complained that "It's like giving a subsidy to porn. This does enormous damage.") [BROWN, D., 2-22-98, p. 26]
Piss Christ, by any reckoning, is a childish act of sensationalism to engender attention through outrage. It is an assault upon Christian identity, and the response that occurred in reaction to it was predictable. Would the same (largely Jewish) critics, curators, and art financiers who championed this, in the name of free speech and pushing artistic boundaries, feel able to champion a "Piss Star of David" or "Piss Talmud?" If so, where is it? It does not exist because it is, by "politically correct" dictates, forbidden. Likewise, does the victimization mythology heralded by the gay community (in Jewry's martyrological shadow) entitle Mapplethorpe to be funded and glorified in dehumanizing and degrading human beings in demeaning sadomasochistic acts? And when Karen Finley howls with sensational rage about her victimhood as a woman, narcissistically covered with chocolate on a stage, where might we look for a model for this kind of demand? Victimhood and sensationalism pays off big time in our era; they are presently the pillars of modern art-making. Where, one wonders, did this all come from?
Another art expression of considerable controversy, albeit in the movie world, was Martin Scorscece's film, The Last Temptation of Christ, a film that engendered a storm of protest from angry Christian organizations. Among the protestors was Reverend Don Wildmon who "during his boycott of the Last Temptation of Christ ... informed the readers of USA Today of the Jewish background of the studio president that released the film." [BOLTON, p. 8]
This revelation is considered by Jews as an act of anti-Semitism. The issue -- in the political sense -- is not whether the Last Temptation of Christ is a good or bad movie. The issue is really the Jewish double standard as dictated by the modern "art" world: Jewish hallowed sanctity (the Holiest of Holies rendered to be the secular Holocaust mythos of Consummate Uniqueness and Irreproachable Innocence), and all other religions and belief systems subject to critical, and deconstructive, attack. While Jewish economic and institutional support is offered to deconstruct Christian mythology in the name of free speech and the expanding of artistic boundaries, a parallel deconstruction of Jewish mythology --religious or otherwise, including the Jewish mythologies of incessant victimization -- is unfathomable.
As "conservative" commentator Robert Knight has noted abut a 1993 rash of anti-Christian artmaking:
"Included in the Whitney show were [Jewish artist/father] Joel-Peter Witkin's 'Maquette for
Crucifix,' a naked Jesus Christ surrounded by sadomasochistic, obscene
imagery and many grotesque corpses and body parts. [Jewish artist] Suzie Silver
contributed a film entitled A Spy, in which Jesus is depicted as a naked woman
with her breasts exposed. It was reminiscent of the Easter event in 1984 at
the Episcopal cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, when a statue
of 'Christa' was unveiled to give the world an image of Jesus Christ as a buxom,
bare-breasted goddess. The Whitney [which is headed by Jewish mogul Leonard
Lauder] exhibit also included the famous Andres Serrano work 'Piss Christ,'
a photo of a crucifix in a beaker of the artist's own urine, and a film by
[Jewish] porn star Annie Sprinkle titled, 'The Sluts and Goddesses Video
Workshop, or How to be a Sex Goddess in 10 Easy Steps." [KNIGHT, R., 1998,
In May 1996 the Jewish entertainment mogul, David Geffen ("whose personal collection of art is perhaps one of the two finest collections in the western United States") donated $5 million to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) which renamed an exhibition center after him. (Geffen has also been a philanthropist for immigrant Russian and Ethiopian Jews in Israel). A little over a year later, in August 1997 (under the auspices of Jewish curator Paul Schimmel), the "Geffen Contemporary" featured an art installation by homosexual artist Robert Gober, once an altar boy. The installment featured a life-size sculpture, in classical pose, arms open, of the Virgin Mary. A large metal shaft like a spear protruded from her midsection. "While the spiral drain pipe pokes a hole in the Virgin Mary and her protective dogma," says art critic Suzanne Muchnic, referring to its accompanying catalogue," It also functions as a phallic symbol that penetrates her body bloodlessly." [MUCHNIC, Stop]
The setting up of Gober's art exhibition was a major undertaking, involving the removal of 8,000 cubic feet of earth, essentially creating a basement for the Geffen Contemporary museum. "No one will specify the total cost of installing the piece," noted the New York Times, but the Geffen's own costs approached $200,000. [SMITH, R., p. E1,4]
When Gober first cast the Virgin Mary sculpture in New York, the Italian family that owned the business he hired to do the job initially told him, "You shouldn't be doing this. If you were a Muslim (and made a similar artwork), you'd be dead." [MUCHNIC, Stop, p. 6] "The piece," noted the New York Times, "also set off a storm of protest letters from some of the city's Roman Catholics, including the director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Then it received a positive review, with a photograph in the Los Angeles Times." [SMITH, R, p. E1] (The president of the Los Angeles Times' parent company, Time-Mirror, has been David Levinthol, who is also the chairman of MOCA's Board of Trustees). A rally against the artwork at the museum drew hundreds of protesters and the Geffen was barraged by "thousands of letters, most of them negative." [LA TIMES, 12-20-97, p. B4]
The show continued unabated. Compare this lack of response to protest to the response of the San Jose Mercury-News -- the second largest newspaper in northern California -- in 1992 when it completely changed its advertising acceptance policy because the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara, and the Human Relations Commission saw anti-Semitism in a carpet ad run in the San Jose newspaper's pages. The ad featured a "Moses-like figure holding tablets above an epithet that said, 'Thou Shalt Not Pay Retail.'" [WOLKOFF, p. 25] No more religious characters in ads would be accepted for publication.
In stark comparison, in 1994 Recycled Paper Greetings, the fourth-largest greeting card company in America, headed by Jewish co-founders Phil Friedmann and Michael Keiser, came under heated attack by Muslim and Arab groups for a "get well" card in its line. The card depicted a head-to-toe woman in a black veil and was captioned with "Rather than confront her morbid fear of germs, Millicent changed her name to Yazmine and moved to Tehran." Inside, noted the Houston Chronicle, there was "irreverent play on the word 'Mecca' and 'Shiite.' Hundreds of telephone callers protested to the company and there were two death threats. The company continued to refuse to pull the card from it's line. [FRANKLIN, S., 1994, p. 9]
When the Gober exhibit finally closed, the Religion page of the Los Angeles Times ran a small article about the artwork (that defamed one of the symbols of the Catholic faith), entitled "Exhibit That Touched Off Catholic Protest Closes." Next to it, on the same page, in a story many times larger, an article entitled "Reform Rabbis Back Return to Dietary Kosher Laws" respectfully elaborated how some liberal Jews were returning to aspects of Jewish Orthodoxy. [LA TIMES, p. 12-20-97, p. B4]
In 1999, a parallel event occurred on the opposite American coast. The Brooklyn Museum made headlines with its exhibition called "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection." New York mayor (of Catholic heritage) Rudolph Giulani and others were outraged by the show which included real mutilated animals and an artwork entitled, "The Holy Virgin Mary." This piece "included cut-outs from pornographic magazines and lumps of elephant dung." Giulani accused the Museum board of "turning the museum into a preserve of Catholic-bashers, people who have no regard for animals, and no regard for the sensitivities of children." [CASIMIR, L., p. 4] Visitors to the exhibit were formally warned that the show "may cause shock, vomiting, confusion, panic, euphoria, and anxiety." [BARSTOW, p. B1] Even the United States Senate passed a resolution condemning public funds for such artwork. (One-third of the Museum's budget is provided by New York City coffers, another $500,000 in the last three years came from the National Endowment for the Arts).
As Michael Holden of the Baltimore Sun complained:
"Imagine a painting about eight feet tall and five feet wide. The
subject? Martin Luther King, Jr., or the prophet Mohammed, or
Buddha, or the Star of David. Now cover the face in that painting
with elephant dung. Next, surround the figure in the picture with
color photographs of female genitalia. Call the finished product
'art,' more specifically, a 'collage.' Then, try to get a museum or
art gallery to display your picture for the public. No one would
touch it. Why? Because covering a picture of King or Buddha or
the Star of David with feces and pornography would be condemned
as a hate crime ... But if you take the Virgin Mary, the mother of
Jesus and a central figure in Roman Catholicism as well as in other
Christian religions -- and cover her image with elephant dung and
female genitalia, your picture will be displayed in London and
New York art galleries." [HOLDEN, M., 10-10-99, p. 46]
Based on alleged abrogations of the museum's stated policies in securing city funds, the Giulani administration instituted legal actions to pull its funding from the museum. It also accused the Brooklyn Museum of "conspiring with Christie's auction house, a sponsor of the show, to inflate the value of the artwork displays, which are all privately owned by Charles Saatchi, the British advertising executive." [HERSZENHORN, p. A1] In turn, the museum sued Giulani, accusing him of shutting down free speech.
Not surprisingly, most of the central power mongers in this drama -- the manipulative inflation of (controversial) art prices, the celebration of the defamation of a Christian icon in the name of free speech, and the glorification of religious attack, were Jewish. These included the owner of all the art work --Charles Saatchi; the head of the Brooklyn Museum, Arthur Lehman; the Chairman of the Board of the museum, Robert S. Rubin; the lawyer who led the counter suit by the museum against the city, "First Amendment expert" Floyd Abrams; and American Civil Liberties Union defender of the museum, Norman Siegel. The New York Times (whose editorial board is largely Jewish; see earlier) printed an anonymous editorial entitled, "The Museum's Courageous Stand." (The actual author of the Virgin Mary depiction elevated to fame was not Jewish. He was African. Lerner insisted that critics of the painting were being culturally intolerant, that the animal feces that decorated it was really a fertility symbol.)
The Saatchi show was formulated and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London; that venue is also headed by a Jew: Norman Rosenthal. For another Rosenthal exhibition, after Sensation, the Times of London noted that the
"curators of the Royal Academy insisted yesterday that hardcore porn and images
of mutilation by contemporary artists were comparable to the Old Masters. They
likened a sado-masochistic video to Michelangelo and Renaissance drawings, a
pile of rubbish to the 16th-century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, and an assemblage
of mutilated toy soldiers to another 16th-century master, Pieter Breughel the Elder.
Norman Rosenthal, exhibitions secretary of the 237-year-old institution, and his
colleague, Max Wigram, defended the latest objects to fill Burlington House - a
sequel to the 1997 Sensation show - against suggestions that they could not be
described as art. Walking round the Apocalypse exhibition yesterday before it
opens to the public on Saturday, they repeatedly drew comparisons with the
Old Masters ... Mr Rosenthal was unable fully to explain how it differed from
pornography screened in any Soho sex shop: 'I don't see porn videos in Soho.
This is about men and women. It is a very Existentialist work of art, like a very
beautiful drawing.'" [ALBERGE, D., 9-20-00]
London's Daily Telegraph complained that at this same Royal Academy show, Apocalypse, "its organizer Norman Rosenthal ... basks amidst a freak show almost wholly devoid of authentic art." [JOHNSON, D., 9-20-00] Or, as London's Guardian noted:
"The Royal Academy is a perverse British institution, and Norman Rosenthal
is a perverse institutional figure. You can't imagine him anywhere else. The [London
art gallery] Tate would never have put on Sensation!, the exhibition of Charles
Saatchi's collection the Academy mounted in 1997: how could the Tate have
allowed Saatchi to stamp himself on history in that way? But Rosenthal had no
qualms about importing all this stuff into the sacred halls of Burlington House,
and for many Sensation! is the defining exhibition of young British art, not only
here but in America. In his office is a framed front page of the New York Post
leading with mayor Giuliani's attempt to ban the show last year. 'I was at the opening
(at the Brooklyn Museum). All the glamorous people were there. But, he says, no
protesters at all. 'I was almost disappointed. The whole thing took place not in real
people's experience but in the cliches of politicians and journalists. That's so boring.
Art is beyond that.' This denial of a desire to create a stir is frankly unbelievable.
Rosenthal is the epitome of the art curator as showman ... Rosenthal's shows have
helped to define British culture now, making the exhibition a phenomenon, a public
ritual ... Since he became exhibitions secretary more than 20 years ago, Rosenthal
has turned the Royal Academy into a venue for event art. Buzz, hype, noise, crowds
are what this purportedly posh and staid organisation thrives on." [JONES, J.,
Reviewing the Brooklyn Museum's Sensation, Camille Paglia complained at the Internet magazine Salon.com:
"As an arts educator, I think that the behavior of the Brooklyn Museum has been
self-interested and short-sighted ... The Brooklyn show [Sensations] is a perfect
example of the improper diversion of public monies -- in this case to aggrandize
a single British collector [Saatchi], an obnoxious advertising executive of
dubious taste ... And I'm just as sick of 'Catholic-bashing' as Giuliani himself.
I may be an atheist, but I was raised in Italian-Catholicism, and it remains
my native culture. I resent the double standard that protects Jewish and
African-American symbols and icons but allows Catholicism to be
routinely trashed by supercilious liberals and ranting gay activists ... That
a Jewish museum director had no compunction about selecting a parodic
image of the Madonna from the whole of [artist] Chris Ofili's dung-bedecked
oeuvre shows either stupidity or malice." [PAGLIA, C., 1999] [Salon.com even
had a subtitle for Paglia's article, Why are a Jewish collector and a Jewish
museum director promoting anti-Catholic art?, but it was later discretely removed.
POLLITT, K., THE NATION, 1999]
"Charles Saatchi is clearly the big winner in this," said Bruce Wolman, editor of Art and Auction magazine, "... Saatchi is not a great advertising man for nothing." [CONNOR, p. 51] The head of the Brooklyn Museum, Arthur Lehman, also stirred Catholic ire earlier when he purchased an Andy Warhol version of the Last Supper for a Baltimore museum. (In October 1999, the Jewish ethnic magazine Forward noted that the Council of American Jewish Museums "was circulating a letter in support of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in its battle with Mayor Giuliani." Likewise, "the associates division of the American Friends of the Israel Museum were scheduled to visit the Brooklyn Museum exhibit on October 17. The visit was to be followed by a cocktail reception at the home of the Brooklyn Museum's director, Arnold Lehman.") [FORWARD, 10-8-99, p. 5]
And the judge selected to hear the city's case against the Museum? Nina Gershon, described by the New York Times as having studied "psychiatry and the law at the Hampstead clinic, run by Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. She is married to Bernard J. Fried, an acting state Supreme Court Justice in Manhattan." [FRIED, J., p. B3] In November 1999 Judge Gershon ruled in the Museum's favor.
Thus armed, completely insensitive to Catholic complaint, Arnold Lehman and his Brooklyn Museum returned in 2001 with yet another controversial defamation of Catholicism. This time African-American artist Renee Cox was afforded space for her photograph "Yo Mama's Last Supper," in image in which Christ is depicted as a nude woman. The curator of this exhibition was also Jewish, Barbara Milstein. [HERMAN, J., 2-16-01] As Catholic Defense League president William Donohue wrote to Ms. Milstein:
"I would love to know whether there is any portrayal of any aspect of history
that you might personally find so offensive as to be excluded from an exhibition
at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. For starters, would you include a photograph of
Jewish slave masters sodomizing their obsequious black slaves? And worry not,
when contemplating your answer, just think of it as a work of high artistic merit." [DONOHUE, W., 2-15-01]
Meanwhile, across the world, in 2001 "the Jewish director of Warsaw's leading state-funded art space, the Zacheta Gallery" resigned. Anda Rottenberg had been under critical fire and national pressure to be fired for two of her controversial exhibits. [ART NEWSPAPER, 3-13-01] In the first, she presentled the work of an Italian artist who had a life-like sculpture of of the Pope (a revered figure in Poland) lying on the floor, crushed by a meteor. Upon viewing the exhibit,
"two MPs [members of the Polish Parliament] from the Catholic nationalist party, Halina Nowina-Konopka and Witold Tomcyk, seriously damaged the sculpture when it was on display ... They authors of the attack alluded to the Jewish origins of Anda Rottenberg, the museum's director, 'How would [s]he like a sculpture to be sent to the National Museum of Israel showing a rabbi squashed by Stalin or Arafat?' ... The Polish Minister for Culture has been inundated with letters of protest about the sculpture calling for Mr Rottenberg's dismissal." [ART NEWSPAPER, 2-23-01]
In the Rottenberg exhibition, it was reported that
"one of Poland's best known actors and film stars is currently under police
investigation and faces a possible prison sentence for slashing a portrait of
himself, in an exhibition in Warsaw's leading contemporary art gallery ...
The show consisted of an uncaptioned series of photographs of actors in
Nazi uniform, taken from film stills without the actors agreement, by the Polish
artist Piotr Uklanski ... Accompanied by TV cameramen and reporters and
as the cameras rolled, the actor Daniel Olbrychski, featured in one of the
portraits, pulled a sword from under his greatcoat and slashed some of
the exhibits, then tore the two featuring himself from the wall and left. The
choice of the sword was significant: it was one used in a film about a
swashbuckling Polish hero and patriot Kmicic. Mr. Olbrchski later
declared: ' I defend the right to say that there are some frontiers of
decency which were clearly overstepped in this exhbition, and I reacted
violently in the hope that my gesture will highlight my objections. I did it
in the spotlight of the camera and flashlights because I wanted Poland to
know my feelings about such 'artistic practices.' Furthermore, I received
the agreement of other actors whose portraits were in the show, including
the French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo who agreed that I should protest
in their name. I can understand that there are opportunistic artists but I
cannot understnad why a director of such a serious institution as Zachenta
has accepted this. Soon Mrs. Anda Rottenberg will organize an exhibition
at which she will expose the faces of known actors on lavatory paper because
she considers that as we are public figures she is entitled to do so."
[ADAM, G., 2001]
* Note a similar museum case in 1968 and a different result (an example of the usual double standard), when the Jewish community felt defamed by a New York City art institution. A Metropolitan Museum of Art catalogue for its African-American photography exhibition, Harlem on My Mind, was decried as anti-Semitic largely because of the comments about the Jewish community by African-American author Candice Van Ellison. Van Ellison noted high amounts of anti-Semitism in the Black community, due to, as she saw it, the many Jewish landlords in Harlem, the many Black servants and maids in Jewish homes, and other forms of exploitation. Jewish pressure forced the museum to pull the catalogue from circulation, despite the fact that the curator of the show and head of the catalogue was Jewish, Allon Schoener, and the fact that Van Ellison's offending comments were merely paraphrases of quotes from a sociological study by Jewish author Nathan Glazer and non-Jew Patrick Moynihan. [HOVING, T., 1993, p. 176]
The curator of the Metropolitan, Thomas Hoving, recalls that he received a call from the office of then-NYC mayor John Lindsey, who was also under heat from the Jewish community to act against the catalogue. "Lindsay," said Hoving, "called upon me to withdraw [the catalogue] at once." "My advice to you," (Jewish) mayoral aide Joe Feldstein told Hoving, "is to act now. Do what the Mayor wants or you're in deep shit!" [HOVING, T., 1993, p. 171] "Two members of the City Council," notes Hoving, "were calling for a hearing -- at once! -- to consider halting all funds for the museum until the offensive catalogue was removed from sale ... [HOVING, p. 172] ... There were increasing outcries from City Council members to 'launch an economic boycott against the Metropolitan' ...[HOVING, p. 173-174] ... On Thursday .. twelve of the more prominent members of the City Council issued a resolution requesting the immediate withdrawal of the catalogue and the withholding of city funding until such time." [HOVING, p. 175]
Museum trustees even called in a former (Jewish) Secretary of Labor, Arthur Goldberg, to provide advise about how to resolve the situation. The trustees hoped Goldberg could "figure a way out of this mess" but "what he did was almost the opposite. Goldberg intoned that in his view there was nothing to be gained by the 'continuance of offering for sale the offending catalogue.'" [HOVING, T., 1993, p. 173] Even the New York Times, defender of "free speech" in the later Brooklyn Museum's defamations against Christianity, "published a bitter editorial condemning the show and its anti-Semitic statements." [HOVING, p. 174]
The offending catalogue was published under Metropolitan auspices by Random House. The president of Random House, Robert Bernstein, and its chairman, Bennet Cerf, were both Jewish. Hoving notes that Cerf and Bernstein,
"who had distinguished career fighting for civil rights all over the world,
had called [curator and catalogue head Allon] Shoener to task, asking
him to issue a personal apology for the catalogue. Schoener had refused.
The publishing executives had informed Schoener that under the
continuing and increasing pressures from the Jewish community, they
might not be able to hold out much longer on withdrawing the book.
Schoener said flatly, 'But that would be book-burning." Cerf, incensed,
shaking all over, thrust his finger towards Schoener's face and shouted,
'Do you know what you have done to Random House?'" [HOVING, T.,
1993, p. 174-175]
The Metropolitan Museum and Random House soon caved in to Jewish pressure and withdrew the catalogue.
Likewise, notes J. J. Goldberg, "In 1994 the San Francisco Jewish community rose up and protested an anti-Semitic mural on the student union building at publicly funded San Francisco State University. Unlike the Brooklyn Museum [and its Saatchi collection], San Francisco State backed down." [GOLDBERG, J. J., 10-8-99, p. 14]
Also, in 2001, due to immediate pressure from both private individuals and the city of Los Angeles, part of a mural painted by two Hispanic artists in Los Angeles on private property was painted over even before it was finished. The offending section -- part of a "timeline" about the Hispanic experience in California -- depicted "an unflattering caricature of a Jewish landlord." The mural was in Boyle Heights, an area of Los Angles once largely Jewish, and now Hispanic. Although Jewish slumlords are a verifiable part of ghetto history throughout America (See Chapter 20), the landlord image was even construed -- sight unseen -- by the local SPARC artist organization, as the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles tells it, to be "hateful and racist." Even a non-Jewish local artist, Dawn Pentecost, volunteered to destroy the art work in her neighborhood. "I don't think we have to accept expressions of anger and hate in our environment," she told a Jewish reporter, "We have to have standards." [TEITELBAUM, S., 3-12-01]
Also in 2001, always eager to check anything that depicts Jews or Judaism in anything less than an idealistic light, the American Jewish Congress formally protested "B.C." cartoonist Johnny Hart for his depiction (at Easter) of the candles of the Jewish menorah going out, being replaced at the end of his comic strip by a cross. "Supercessionism," the AJC declared, "the belief that Christianity can and will replace Judaism, has been strongly repudiated by many leading Catholic and Protestant theologians ... Whatever the cartoonist's personal beliefs, the sudden insertion of religiously offensive cartoons into the comics section of Sunday newspapers is highly inappropriate and abuses readers, especially young children, who turn to B. C. every week." There are certainly such people who have bowed to such Jewish lobbying pressure, but not only is Christianity a "supercessionist" faith, but so is Islam, which holds that the prophet Mohammed is the last in the line of prophets descending from Jewish and Christian tradition. And how is Judaism itself not "supercessionist?" How could it not be? Judaism was invented in a social, political, and religious vacuum? The AJC "urged newspapers across the country to either replace [the cartoon] or print a disclaimer on Sunday." [AMERICAN JEWISH CONGRESS, 2001]