500 Judaica

Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art
Hemachandra, Ray & Daniel Belasco. 500 Judaica: Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art. Lark: Sterling. (500 Series). 2010. c.420p. photogs. ISBN 9781600594625. pap. $24.95. FINE ARTS
This handsomely produced volume focuses on what the authors term the three main trends in the design of the ritual objects known as Judaica. The first is "craft" and includes color, decoration, and biblical narration illustrated with forms. The second trend, dating from the 1920s and peaking in popularity from the 1950s through the 1970s, is the "modernist" style, in which an absence of decoration and a preference for metal (especially silver) predominate. The "postmodernist" trend, arising in the late 1970s, has more social content and employs mixed media. Beautifully photographed examples of all three styles make up the 500 color images depicting Sabbath candlesticks, kiddush ritual cups, dreidels, Passover seder plates, spice boxes, Hanukkah menorahs, mezuzahs, tzedakah boxes, and more. Although the artists are identified, there is little narrative beyond the introduction. The art speaks for itself, fortunately.
VERDICT Those interested in contemporary Jewish arts and crafts will find this catalog useful. Beyond this niche readership, this book will be a welcome addition to Judaica art libraries and contemporary art museum gift shops.
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