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Ahasuerus at the Easel

Jewish Art and Jewish Artists in Central and Eastern European Modernism at the Turn of the Last Century

Tom Sandqvist

This survey asks a seemingly simple question: Is there an affinity between the emergence of modern art and various Avant-Garde movements such as Russian Suprematism and Polish or Hungarian Constructivism around about the turn of the last century and the process of Jewish assimilation in the Habsburg empire and Russian tsardom respectively? What about the possible connection between «Hebraism», Jewish Messianism, Talmudic philosophy, and Kabbalistic speculations and the most radical, Utopian Avant-Garde movements of the region? Was Russian Cubo-Futurism, Suprematism, Productivism, Polish and Hungarian Constructivism actually fostered by ideas and practices articulated in Eastern Jewry? And what was the impact of Anti-Semitism on how the artists related to stylistic purity and their own cultural identity in the region already prior to the emergence of Avant-Gardism? And how did the supposed biblical ban on «graven images» influence the approach of the Jewish artists?
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Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the internet at

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataSandqvist, Tom.  Ahasuerus at the easel : Jewish art and Jewish artists in Central and Eastern European Modernism at the turn of the last century / Tom Sandqvist.   pages cm Includes bibliographical references.ISBN 978-3-631-65163-61. Jewish art–Europe, Central–20th century. 2. Jewish art–Europe, Eastern–20th century. 3. Modernism (Art)–Europe, Central. 4. Modernism (Art)–Europe, Eastern. 5. Art and society–Europe, Central–History–20th century. 6. Art and society–Europe, Eastern–History–20th century. I. Title.  N7417.6.S26 2014704.03’9240409041–dc23


First version published in Swedish: Ahasverus vid staffliet. Judisk konst och judiska konstnärer i den centraloch östeuropeiska modernismen, © Bokförlaget Atlantis.

Cover photo: © Ann Edholm

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