The extraordinary works in this exhibition are rarely seen, and this is their first time in America.
Maya Benton was a high school senior living in Los Angeles when the Russian-American photographer Roman Vishniac’s first posthumous book, To Give Them Light, came out in 1993. Renowned for his iconic images of Eastern European Jews taken between the two World Wars, Vishniac had died three years earlier at age 92.
Did you ever wonder about the origin of the distinctive round thermostat that regulates the temperature in your home? Or how about the pink Princess phone every teenage girl once coveted or those eye-catching images that promoted such films as The Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder or Exodus? All these items, it turns out, are evidence of the vital role that Jewish architects, designers and patrons played in the development and dissemination of modernism in America.
“Marc loved the small-town feeling of Georgetown,” Evelyn wrote. “He liked being able to greet our neighbors and walking to Woolworths to buy postcards and an art-supply store to buy more brushes.” One day he told her that he wanted to “do something for the house,” but later, he said, “No, the house is perfect; I’ll make a mosaic for the garden.”
In July 1937 Germany’s National Socialist Party opened an exhibition in Munich it termed “Entartete Kunst,” or “Degenerate Art.” Intentionally housed in cramped, poorly lit conditions and awkwardly hung, the works on view were accompanied by inflammatory, denigrating labels. The exhibition was an open declaration of the Nazis’ state-run war on modern art and the effort to impose their officially sanctioned conception of art through propaganda and force.