Art and Religion: Jewish Art of the Modern Era

Barbara Falletta
Jewish Culture & History / Arts & Letters

Course Description

Both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles forbid the adoration of "graven images," a warning that affected the production of fine art for centuries. However, there is no ban on creating objects of art that celebrate the sacred rituals of religion and the moral values they instill. Jewish artists of the 19th century expressed their religious beliefs, religious services, and the family celebrations associated with them. Moritz Daniel Oppenheim was the first Jewish painter of the modern era who became famous for his paintings of traditional Jewish life. Solomon Alexander Hart was the first member of the British Royal Academy, and an artist who painted images of the pageantry of Jewish religious ceremonies. Jozef Israels, considered to be one of the founders of the Hague School of Art, painted images of Jews and Jewish life that earned him the name "the Jewish Rembrandt." By the 20th century, modern art became the norm, and many Jewish artists turned toward the style and innovative themes being addressed by the avant-garde artists. Eventually, the work of many Jewish-American artists was recognized and praised, and many of them became leaders of the Modern Art Movement. This series of presentations will reveal the genius of many of these artistic pioneers who led art in new directions throughout the last two centuries, and into the next.


1. The Jewish Experience in the Art of the Twentieth Century.
2. Jewish Art in America.
3. Russian-Jewish Artists.
4. After Rabin: New Art from Israel.

About the Instructor

  • Dr. Barbara Falletta is an artist, art historian, educator, and author. Her art has been exhibited in juried and one-person exhibitions. Her academic writing has been published in several journals, and her creative writing may be found in many anthologies. She continues to produce art, judge exhibitions, and lecture in art museums and other venues. Dr. Falletta is a member of several professional organizations including the National Society of Arts and Letters where she has served as co-chairperson of the Florida East Coast Chapter scholarship committee.