Visual Moment // History, Demolished

The world watched in horror earlier this year when videos went viral showing ISIS bulldozing the 3,000-year-old ruins of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud in Iraq—a city so old it is mentioned in Genesis. The militants toppled walls and bas-reliefs, sledgehammered statues and used a bulldozer to overturn and shatter a majestic human-headed, winged bull statue that had long guarded the city’s Nergal Gate…

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Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt

The Other “Woman in Gold”

In August 1903, a 22-year-old Viennese Jewish socialite by the name of Adele Bloch-Bauer wrote to a friend that the renowned Austrian painter Gustav Klimt had agreed to paint her portrait. It was to be a commission from her husband, sugar industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. The cost, according to Anne-Marie O’Connor’s book The Lady in Gold, was considerable—4,000 crowns at the time, or about a “quarter of the price of a well-appointed country villa.” Klimt could not start the portrait until winter, so it wasn’t until December that the young Adele ventured to his studio to sit for the portrait.

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Visual Moment // Pink Phones, Midcentury Modernism & More

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.

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Orphée by Marc Chagall

Visual Moment // Chagall’s Orphée

“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.”

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Sanctioned vs. Degenerate Art

Visual Moment // “Degenerate” Art

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.

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