Modern and Contemporary Art Beyond Belief

This article was first published as “The Jewish sides of Rothko, Mondrian and Pollock” in The Times of Israel.

Wallace Berman, Untitled (400.300.50), 1974; stone, metal, and acrylic (photo credit: Collection SFMOMA)

Wallace Berman, Untitled (400.300.50), 1974; stone, metal, and acrylic (photo credit: Collection SFMOMA)

SAN FRANCISCO —The Jewish American artist Mark Rothko once said, “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”

Lovers of Rothko’s creations, along with that of other 20th century visionaries like Piet Mondrian, Alberto Giacometti, and Jackson Pollock, will likely say it is more than mere aesthetic sensibilities that draw them to these works. Some people are spiritually moved by modern art, and San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum is hoping even more will be when they view its new “Beyond Belief” exhibition.

“Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art,” on view until October 27, is a collaboration between CJM and its neighbor, theSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, that explores the connection between spirituality and modern and contemporary art. Closed for expansion, SFMOMA has loaned more than 60 pieces — some popular favorites, some rarely seen, and some completely new acquisitions — from its renowned collection for this show.

The paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs, videos, and installations span an entire century, from 1911 to 2011. Arranged thematically according to ten Jewish theological concepts, the exhibition includes 62 pieces by 49 artists, one-quarter of whom are living and nine of whom are Jewish.

“These are beloved works of art that we couldn’t stand to think about being tucked away in storage for the next two years,” said Janet Bishop, SFMOMA curator of painting and sculpture, speaking to the audience at a recent preview showing of the exhibition. “Beyond Belief” is the first of many partnerships planned between SFMOMA and other cultural institutions that will keep its collection on view while SFMOMA’s building is under construction over the next two years.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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