Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
100
In a way, this exhibition attempt is as questionable as is
Kampf’s. But the Dillenbergers explain themselves with far
greater facility, and one is left with more than simply a sense
of art compiled for doubtful theme relationships.
T he most studied aspect of Jewish art remains the field of
ceremonial art. While it raises questions about fine and decor-
ative arts, or about usage and customs, or about the religion
of the makers—ceremonial art seems far from the troublesome
area of Jewish meaning; everyone seems to agree tha t this
is
‘‘Jewish art.” Abram Kanof writes in this field with the special
love and sensitivity of the
amateur,
and it is very much to
his credit tha t he combined a discussion of the subjects them-
selves with background about Jewish life and law. Th is is
a book for the general reader, with all the best qualities of
contemporary art books—ample, splendid plates in color and
black-and-white. T he material is well-organized, although by
attempting to cover every aspect of the field, there is occasional
confusion as to where a particular topic belongs. But the format
of relating old and new works is especially important, since it
continually reiterates the fact tha t ceremonies and their objects
are not simply museum concepts. Because the book is so fine
and so important, one wishes that Kanof had pursued some of
the implications of certain areas he covers too quickly—such as
folk art and its importance. In some ways, this is the most
important recent Jewish art book, because its publication by
Harry N. Abrams, in a conventional elegant art-book format,
really has raised the standards for all books in this field.
If Kanof provides us with an exemplary new volume, there is
cause for celebration about the recent reissue (albeit in limited
edition) of two standard studies in the Judaica field by Hein-
rich Frauberger. Somehow, early 20th-century Frankfurt scholar-
ship still remains unparalleled, and these two reviews of Jew-
ish ritual art can now be more easily available in libraries, if not
in personal collections. Perhaps the most ambitious museum
summary of the field is the extraordinary
Catalogue
from Lon-
don’s Jewish Museum. The production is fine, with generally
excellent plates, including some good color. While the catalogue
entries are not always adequate and frequently lack the inter-
esting comparisons with related works, the information is still
good, with different experts taking on various aspects of the col-