Navigating the Worldly and the Divine: Jewish American Artists on Judaism and Their Art

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2013

Publication Title

Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies


The history of American art boasts a large number of prominent artists with Jewish backgrounds, including artists as diverse as Richard Avedon, Audrey Flack, Robert Frank, and Lee Krasner. Whether or not these artists’ religiocultural inheritance influence(d) their art has been of recent interest. This article presents some Jewish American artists’ own thoughts on the Jewishness of their art or the spiritual dimensions that shape their artistic conceptions. Several rich sources have supplied this important primary material, including the artists’ personal writings, notably an impressive body of autobiographical books and comments, and the author’s oral interviews and written correspondence with many of the living artists. By offering some Jewish American artists’ perceptions of their background and work, not only can we see the diversity of the artists’ Jewish identifications but these new perspectives will invigorate subsequent discussions of both their Jewish and non-Jewish themed work.





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