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Memory and Journey: Dimensions of Israeli and Jewish Art

Memory and Journey: Dimensions of Israeli and Jewish Art

July 2013│Düsseldorf │Germany

The history of Israeli art is as young as the history of the State of Israel. The cultural development of the state and its art, however, goes back a long time and is rooted mainly in Europe. Influenced by waves of immigration and the accompanying cultural imports, the present-day definition of Israeli culture is, in a sense, "European Jewish".
Modernism in Europe questioned how the term Jewish art was to be defined. One of the many questions that this conference will raise is to what extent the different forms in which Jewish art manifested itself can be seen as predecessors of modern and contemporary Israeli art. Research in the fields of Jewish and Israeli art demonstrate that the classical criteria and delimitations of traditional art history do not suffice to describe and analyze this complex definition of art. They have to be complemented with interdisciplinary methods. The conference will address both theoretical questions and practical approaches. In addition to theoretical lectures a wide variety of art professionals such as gallery owners, curators, museum personnel will address these issues as well as the contemporary art scene and art market in panel discussions.

The conference will focus on the following questions: 

  • How is Jewish art described and how can we redefine Jewish art in the light of contemporary artdevelopment? Does a contemporary Jewish art exist?
  • What is the narrative of Israeli art history? When does it start? Is it categorized in different schools?
  • What is the relationship of Israeli art history with European art history?
  • How do Israeli artists deal with the topics of Jewish and Israeli identity?

The terms "Memory and Journey" describe a chronology from the past via the present to the future. The conference aims to provide an overview of the topics and fields of research on Israeli art by reviewing the historical processes and looking at current developments. It seeks to address both scholars who are conducting research as well as those who work in the arts and the art market.

The conference is a cooperation between the art history departments at Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf and University of Basel. The departments of art history are represented by Prof. Dr. Andrea von Hülsen-Esch and Prof. Dr. Barbara Schellewald.