Page 106 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
9 8
Such writing as has appeared in the past, has been gathered
by Joseph Gutmann in his excellent anthology,
No Graven
Images.
While the book is very inexpensively produced, with
rather bad plates, the contents are important, since this is
a compilation of material dating back as far as 1913, which
is generally out-of-print or difficult to find. T he system of or-
ganization and the bibliographic references are complex and
inconvenient, bu t cannot distract from the importance of the
material, with major articles by the editor (one of the most
important people writing in the field today ) , Goodenough,
Andre Grabar, Weitzmann, Ettinghausen, Roth, and Werner.
The la tte r’s article on Chagall’s Jerusalem windows remains
one of the genuinely poetic pieces in the vast array of Chagall
encomia. Gutmann, in his article on the sources of the Ash-
burnham Pentateuch, provides one of the key attempts to deal
with questions about the
origins
of interrelationships between
Jewish and Christian art. The Gordis/Davidowitz compilation
of essays which originally appeared in
Judaism
is of limited
value because it has no illustrations, bu t several of the essays
remain of great importance, especially Mihaly’s classic dis-
cussion of the connection between Jewish prayer and synagogue
architecture.
T he most ambitious compilation in this general area remains
Geoffrey Wigoder’s two-volume attempt to cover everything
Jewish-and-artistic. While the books are splendid “coffee table”
tomes, with wonderful printing and photographs, the essays
vary greatly in quality—even with some stellar writers. This
is a book for the general reader, and perhaps as such has some
real value (if the general reader can afford i t ! ) , bu t one is not
quite certain what the essayists were asked to do—except per-
haps redo material on which they had worked previously. While
the Wigoder tomes appeal to the well-heeled reader, Gutfeld’s
simple book tries to summarize the Jewish art field standing on
the noted single foot. This is a superficial book, not really
a serious attempt to summarize complex questions. Yet the
plates are quite good, even if there are no photo credits, leaving
us guessing about the source of the art.
On the other hand, the Heinrich Strauss book manages a very
cogent and interesting review of the many questions which con-
stantly surround the concept of Jewish art. Excellently organized,