The Israel Museum, an encyclopedic museum of great depth and breadth, is
fortunate to have in its collections treasures of artistic virtuosity spanning
a broad range of cultures. Over the years, this wealth of material has
provided the opportunity for exhibitions that offer revelatory juxtapositions
of objects, from archaeological antiquities to cutting-edge contemporary
art. Now, while the Museum is renewing all of its permanent collection
galleries, we have organized a series of temporary exhibitions that
highlight and celebrate this interdisciplinary strength. Bizarre Perfection,
the second in the series, focuses on the remarkable technical dexterity
of artist and artisan alike, presenting works that cross the traditional
boundaries between art and craft and that can perhaps best be described
as “marvelous.” These works, some of them on display for the first time, are
drawn from each of our three curatorial wings, in archaeology, Jewish art
and life, and the fine arts. They are enriched in this display by a number of
key loans which demonstrate through examples of very contemporary art
an extraordinary attention to detail and to masterful execution, offering
insight into the artistic quest for perfection.
We are grateful to the exhibition’s lenders, who are listed elsewhere in
this publication, and to the Jack N. and Lilyan Mandel Fund, the Joseph C.
and Florence Mandel Fund, the Morton L. and Barbara Mandel Fund, and
the donors to the Museum’s 2008 Exhibition Fund for making it possible to
realize this project in the fullest possible way. This exhibition also offers
the opportunity to recognize the sustained achievement of Chief Curator of
the Arts and Curator of Contemporary Art Suzanne Landau, who continues
in projects such as this to demonstrate the rich potential of works of art
in many forms to speak to one another in meaningful and illuminating ways.
For this particular exhibition and publication, she enjoyed the important
and enthusiastic assistance of Associate Curator Tanya Sirakovich of the
Modern Art Department and of many other members of the Museum’s staff,
among them curators representing the broad range of disciplines brought
together by this undertaking.
James S. Snyder
Anne and Jerome Fisher Director