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Ryback’s Formal Approach to Jewish Art

Hosted By: YIVO

The works of Jewish Ukrainian artist Issachar Ber Ryback (1897-1935), including illustrations, drawings, paintings, sculptures, stage designs, and theoretical writings, present a unique formal approach to national art that diverges from traditional depictions of Jewish identity. His body of work highlights the material culture of everyday Eastern European Jewish life, particularly through “Shtetl, mayn khorever heym: a gedekhenish” (Shtetl: My Destroyed Home, a Recollection), a lithograph album created in 1917 within the Pale of Settlement and published in Berlin in 1923. This analysis explores how Ryback’s use of materiality and visual representation challenged conventional mediums, countered the Western European paradigm of Jewish aniconism, and questioned the dominance of text as the preferred Jewish medium.

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