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Jewish Art Course in St. Petersburg

As part of the ongoing efforts to train and expose art historians, educators, scholars, community leaders and students to current research in the expanding field of Jewish Art, the Center for Jewish Art conducted its third bi-annual Seminar this summer in St. Petersburg.  The Seminar took place from June 26 to July 2, at the Institute of Science in central St. Petersburg, near the Hermitage Museum. Approximately 80 people participated in this year's Seminar, primarily students from the Jewish University, as well as local researchers, curators and educators including twenty art teachers from throughout the C.I.S.  The lecturers who addressed the Seminar this year discussed a wide variety of subjects ranging from "Monuments of Ancient Israel" to "Jewish Artists of Eastern Europe from the 18th to 20th Centuries."

The evening lectures were each of one and a half hours duration and were complimented  by a rich assortment of slides and printed material.  Much of the material presented over the course of the week was completely new to those who attended.

Gabriella Bichovsky, presented a series of lectures on “the Archeology of Ancient Jerusalem.” She covered the history of Jerusalem during the First and Second Temple, Roman and Byzantine periods. Bichovsky, whose expertise is in ancient coins, now works in the Department of Antiquities at the Rockefeller Museum, and is a researcher at the Center for Jewish Art.

In his lectures on the language of Jewish folk art in 17th to 19th century Eastern Europe, Boris Chaimovich, organizer of the Seminar, discussed wall paintings in masonry and wooden synagogues and their iconographical connection to carved tombstones.  He also spoke about illustrated Jewish community record books (pinkasim) from the 18th and 19th centuries. Chaimovich, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the Hebrew University and a researcher at the Center for Jewish Art.

Hillel Kazovsky, a doctoral candidate at the Hebrew University, lectured on the Eastern European Jewish artists from the mid-19th century to the 1930s.  He spoke about the Jewish centers of art education in Vilna , Odessa, Warsaw and Vitebsk and on the avant -garde Jewish artists in Eastern Europe, the Kultur-Lige, in the period before the Russian Revolution through the 1920s and 1930s, with emphasis on Chagall, Altman, Ryback, Chaikov and Epstein.  Kazovsky is an expert on 19th and 20th century Jewish artists from Eastern Europe, some of whom are still unknown in the West, and is the author of the book Artists from Vitebsk.

Binyamin Lukin, who is also a researcher at the Center for Jewish Art, used new archival sources from the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem in his lectures on the Jewish History of Eastern Europe.  In his latest research he has concentrated on the communities of Podolia and Volin, in the Ukrainian portion of the former Jewish Pale of Settlement.

The Seminar was very enthusiastically received, supplying a richness of topics that are not within the regular curriculum of the Jewish University.  The lecturers were very impressed by the level of scholarship of the participants, and also by their knowledge of Hebrew.  The Seminar was planned to coincide with other programs taking place in St. Petersburg on the theme of the State of Israel.

This Seminar was made possible with the generous support of the Rich Foundation.


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Last Updated: 21 October, 2014
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