Eva Hesse



She died at age 34. Yet during her short lifetime Eva Hesse made a lasting impact on the art world. I had little familiarity with Hesse, having seen but one sculpture at MoMA.


I learned about this fascinating woman, and her work, from the documentary Eva Hess R Film By Marcie Begleiter.

Sent by their parents on a Kindertransport, Hesse, aged two, and her older sister Helen, left their native Germany during the rise of Nazism. They were later joined by their parents, eventually settling in New York. Hesse was schooled in American abstract painting and commercial design practices. She originally pursued a career in commercial textile design, but eventually her practice as an expressionist painter led her to increasingly experiment with industrial and every-day, or “found” materials, such as rope, string, wire, rubber, and fiberglass. While she’s best known for her sculptures, Hesse also painted and created “combos.” Some of her artwork can be seen now at the Met Breuer, MoMA, the Drawing Center and the Jewish Museum.

The movie is playing at the Film Forum through May 10th and it’s really worth seeing.

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.

Textile Exhibition: The Consequences of Hate Speech (Lashon Hara)

Chofetz Chaim, Robin Atlas, 2012

Chofetz Chaim, Robin Atlas, 2012

Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech is an unusual art exhibition at the Anne Frank Center in lower Manhattan. Hebrew for “evil speech,” Lashon Hara focuses on how words can be used to destroy and are at the root of intolerance, anti-semitism, racism and discrimination.


At the "Lashon Hara" exhibit, Anne Frank Center

At the “Lashon Hara” exhibit, Anne Frank Center

Set within a permanent exhibit on Anne Frank, Lashon Hara features a collection of mixed media works, by textile artist Robin Atlas . “It is intended to stimulate awareness of the impact of our words. It is my hope that from that, diverse factions become the whole and a common good evolves,” says Atlas. Each piece references an aspect of Jewish law about “evil speech,” or a tale from Jewish folklore. I wish the lighting had been better because the pieces were each very beautiful but they were hard to see. The exhibition, presented in conjunction with the Jewish Art Salon, will be on view through February 27th.