"The works of eleven artists were displayed at the Congress, and Schmidt's book is chiefly devoted to biographies of these artists and discussions of their artistic achievements. . . . . The author has done a commendable job of collecting material on all these artists, ranging from encyclopedia articles to contemporary critical comments."—Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
Martin Buber and friends successfully lobbied the congress for inclusion of cultural Zionism into the official agenda of the Zionist organization, resulting in the establishment of the Bezalel Art Institute in Jerusalem in 1905. In the first book of its kind, Gilya Gerda Schmidt places this art exhibition in the context of political Zionism as well as anti-Semitism. Jews had been denied the opportunity to be creative, and religious Zionists feared that Jewish culture would usurp religion within the Zionist movement.
Hermann Struck, an artist and Orthodox Jew, became a founding member of the religious Zionist Party, further supporting Buber’s assertion that culture and religion were not at odds. The forty-eight works of art in the exhibition were created by eleven artists, all but two of whom were famous in their lifetime. Until now, their works had been largely forgotten. In the last decade, contributing artists—Ephraim Lilien, Lesser Ury, Jozef Israels, Struck, and Maurycy Gottlieb—have enjoyed a revival of their work.
Gilya Gerda Schmidt, professor of religious studies at the University of Tennessee, is the editor and translator of many books and articles including The First Buber: Youthful Zionist Writings of Martin Buber, also published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 288 pages, 41 black and white illustrations