Social Concern and Left Politics in Jewish American Art: 1880-1940 by Matthew Baigell

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This book explores the important and barely examined connections between the humanitarian concerns embedded in the religious heritage of Jewish American artists and the appeal of radical political causes between the years of the Great Migration from Eastern Europe in the 1880s and the beginning of World War II in the late 1930s. Visual material consists primarily of political cartoons published in leftwing Yiddish- and English-language newspapers and magazines. Artists often commented on current events using biblical and other Jewish references, meaning that whatever were their political concerns, their Jewish heritage was ever present. By the late 1940s, the obvious ties between political interests and religious concerns largely disappeared. The text, set against events of the times--the Russian Revolution, the Depression and the rise of fascism during the 1930s as well as life on New York's Lower East Side--includes artists' statements as well as the thoughts of religious, literary, and political figures ranging from Marx to Trotsky to newspaper editor Abraham Cahan to contemporary art critics including Meyer Schapiro.

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