By Tom Sandqvist

This survey asks a doubtless easy query: Is there an affinity among the emergence of recent artwork and diverse Avant-Garde routine equivalent to Russian Suprematism and varnish or Hungarian Constructivism round concerning the flip of the final century and the method of Jewish assimilation within the Habsburg empire and Russian tsardom respectively? What in regards to the attainable connection among «Hebraism», Jewish Messianism, Talmudic philosophy, and Kabbalistic speculations and the main radical, Utopian Avant-Garde routine of the quarter? was once Russian Cubo-Futurism, Suprematism, Productivism, Polish and Hungarian Constructivism really fostered by means of principles and practices articulated in jap Jewry? And what was once the influence of Anti-Semitism on how the artists on the topic of stylistic purity and their very own cultural identification within the sector already sooner than the emergence of Avant-Gardism? and the way did the meant biblical ban on «graven images» effect the method of the Jewish artists?

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Extra resources for Ahasuerus at the Easel: Jewish Art and Jewish Artists in Central and Eastern European Modernism at the Turn of the Last Century

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Like the multitude of contemporary art historians Thode thus confirmed one of the oldest tropes in anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Jews’ disloyalty to “the host”, that is, in this case, the German nation, at the same time displaying the ancient myth of the supposed Jewish global conspiracy. The first one who used the term “Jewish art” was probably no less a person than Johann Joachim Winckelmann in a short passage of his epoch-making Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums from 1764, a passage then, one hundred years later, followed by the numismatist and archaeologist Louis-Félicien de Saulcy’s Histoire de l’art judaïca, while the German art historian David Kaufmann’s Etwas über jüdischer Kunst published in 1878 was the first really important, strictly scientific study written after Kaufmann visiting the world fair at Palais du Trocadéro in Paris in that same year, at which the public for the first time ever was able to see a collection of Jewish ceremonial art.

The foreigner is not nor does he pretend to be a patriot, but when it comes to a Jew, then he is not a native of his own homeland, nor a foreigner. Indeed, he is the true stranger par excellence. He is regarded neither as a friend nor as an enemy, but only as a stranger, of which the only thing is known that he doesn’t have a home. 25 As mentioned before, the process of assimilation or integration was never completed, this too being a fundamental precondition of the participation in the process of modernization, since this implies a flexibility as profound as possible.

This is the secret nature of the uncanny, Freud claims and says that we now understand why everyday language lets the uncanny pass into its opposite: the uncanny is really nothing new or strange, but on the contrary it’s something well-known but transformed into something strange by repression. Thus, that which is “unheimlich” is that which once was “heimlich”, something quite at home and always well-known. The prefix “un” marks the repression of all that must be repressed when encountered with the demands of assimilation for courteous conduct, those demands for following Western norms of good taste and moral values always and everywhere in order to qualify for the new bourgeois civil society, exactly the society constantly reminding oneself of one’s Jewishness and its differences.

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