Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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B y R
a ch e l
i s c h n i t z e r
- B
e r n s t e i n
n p H E publication dates of the books on the history of Jewish
■^־ art during the past two decades convey at a glance the situ-
tion in the field. In 1927 Richard Krautheimer’s
(Medieval Synagogues) appeared; in 1928 Karl Schwarz’
Juden in der Kunst
(Jews in Art) was published; Cohn-Wiener’s
Die Juedische Kunst
(Jewish Art) appeared in 1929; and 1935 saw
the appearance of
Gestalten und Symbole der Juedischen Kunst
(Figures and Symbols of Jewish Art) by Rachel Wischnitzer-Bern-
stein, which was closely followed by Franz Landsberger’s
fuehrung in die Juedische Kunst
(Introduction to Jewish Art).
I t is apparent that since the end of the 1920’s the need has been
felt for a comprehensive approach to the problem of Jewish art in
its entirety. This, in order that the acumen of material in special
journals, excavation reports and other out-of-the-way publications
be organized for presentation to the lay reader.
One suggested method of presentation is that of a chronological
survey. However, because Jews live in many lands, a synchroni-
zation within distinct periods is imperative. Another suggested
method is the topical or what is called iconographical presentation
which would point out the ideological continuity of Jewish reli-
gious art through the ages. In addition, the ceremonial aspect of
works of art used for devotional purposes might be considered.
These three phases, the historical, the iconographical and the
ritual are legitimate parts of an all around presentation of Jewish
art and call for constant revision and reinterpretation.
A new discovery or a special study may revolutionize and upset
our scale of values, as did, for example, the excavations of mosaic
pavements and murals in the synagogues of Palestine and Syria.
In such a case, the new historical and iconographic material has
to be duly integrated. Even the glossary of ritual accessories may
have to be readjusted to meet the demands of an audience often
unfamiliar with the folklore, the regional and local traditions,
customs and habits from which the paraphernalia of religious
ritual have evolved.
The student of Jewish art will be greatly aided by the encyclo-
pedias in which the material accumulated in scholarly publications
is pre-digested and the data and illustrations compiled. There is