From Hebrew Illumination to Contemporary Drawings: Two Exciting Exhibits at the Morgan

What I love about visiting The Morgan Library & Museum are their diverse exhibits and the inviting space within which to experience them. Two newly opened exhibits drew me there recently.

The Ten Plagues, Barbara Wolff The Rose Haggadah 2011–13

The Ten Plagues, Barbara Wolff
The Rose Haggadah

The first was “Hebrew Illumination for Our Time: The Art of Barbara Wolff,” (on view until May 3). Wolff is a contemporary artist who uses the techniques of medieval manuscript illumination. She paints on animal skin, and highlights her illustrations with silver, gold, and platinum foils.  The  manuscript, the traditional book that accompanies the Passover Seder, was originally commissioned for use by the Rose family.  The Hebrew text was written by Izzy Pludwinski , and the English captions are by Karen Gorst.

Barbara Wolff

Barbara Wolff

In addition to having each page of the Haggadah on view, there is a fascinating film that accompanies the exhibit. An Illuminated Haggadah for the 21st Century  documents the process and craft involved in creating the Rose Haggadah. Wolf describes everything from what kind of animal skin she selects and why; her formula for creating gesso (the binder applied as a basis for the gold leaf); and the ancient art that inspires her illustrations.

The exhibit also showcases ten folios of “You Renew the Face of the Earth”  which Wolff created to illustrate passages from Hebrew Psalm 104, a celebration of all creation.

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For a completely different kind of art, also go see Embracing Modernism: Ten Years of Drawings Acquisitions. There are over eighty drawings from 1900-2013, acquired by the Morgan over the past decade. They include an exciting group of artists from Matisse, Mondrian and Schiele to Pollack, Warhol and Lichentstein.  Curator Isabelle Dervaux has organized the drawings “by the characteristics that define its modernity in relation to the historical tradition. ”  The themes are: The Autonomy of the Line; Gesture and Trace; High and Low; Everyday Objects; and From Melancholia to Schizophrenia. This exhibit is on view until May 24th.

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