The conception of Jewish art promoted by Boris Schatz, and later by the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, was one aspect of a wide-ranging discourse on the essence of Jewish art at the end of the nineteenth century. Schatz advocated the approach of cultural Zionism and considered the existence of a specifically Jewish visual art, created in the land of Israel, a prerequisite for the nation's rehabilitation.

Schatz's work has two stylistic facets: his own sculptures, which were executed in a realistic-Academic style, and the Bezalel objects, created in keeping with the ideology that he fostered. The Bezalel design attempted to combine symbolic and stylistic motifs borrowed from Eastern and Western traditions, or modeled on land-of-Israel scenery, with biblical and Zionist subject matter. In this way, the work produced by the Bezalel School bridged East and West, while also creating a bridge between past and present by applying archaeological motifs or biblical scenes to the design of modern-day utensils.

 

Another characteristic of the Bezalel aesthetic was the idealized, idyllic atmosphere of the depicted scenes. These offered sentimental visions of a pure, radiant, and above all harmonious paradise, filledwithbeautifulfiguresbaskingina flawlessnatural setting.


"Again I will Build Thee and Thou shall be Built, O Virgin of Israel" , 1920s, glazed tiles
produced at the "Bezalel" ceramics workshop, Ze'ev Holtzman Collection, Tel Aviv

 


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