Arthur Szyk and the Art of The Haggadah
This presentation is designed for educators and those who wish to study The Szyk Haggadah in depth and understand the context in which it was created, against the backdrop of Nazi Europe.
This powerpoint looks at the details within the images of The Szyk Haggadah and focuses on the messages Arthur Szyk delivered to 1930s European Jewry with his visual commentary. Szyk calls attention to the injustices of the past, the unfolding horror in the present, and the heroic means necessary to insure future survival.
“We had the most exhilarating lecture from Irvin on Monday at our CJM docent class. He was fantastic and it felt like the 2 hours were over in a moment. He was most charming and beyond informative. He gave us a lot of literature to read and I will tell you that I cannot get enough of this. I’m about to get on a plane and I’m thrilled with the idea that I can focus on Szyk for all of those hours.”
— Carole Meyers
Tour Guide, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
The Fabric of America through the Art of Arthur Szyk
This presentation will explore how and why Szyk, his art, and its messages focus on themes that are continuously relevant by examining the roots of American values and ideals through his art.
At a time when America is trying to articulate what it stands for, and whereas its attitudes on democracy, immigration, big business, and similar issues are under attack, vision and clarity are needed more than ever. At a similar juncture in American history, Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) had expressed such clarity and vision through his art.
Szyk, the leading political artist in America during WW II and the greatest illuminator since the 16th century, was called “The Artist for Freedom” by the Library of Congress in its millennium exhibition in the year 2000, a half century after his death. This visual powerpoint presentation will explore how and why Szyk, his art, and its messages focus on themes that are continuously relevant, by examining the roots of American values and ideals through his art.
This talk was delivered in Washington, DC at the Library of Congress.
Arthur Szyk: Miniature Paintings and Modern Illuminations
Presentation on Arthur Szyk’s brilliant career as a painter and illuminator.
Inspired by the Legion of Honor exhibition of the same name, this illustrated presentation examines the long and varied career of the 20th century artist Arthur Szyk, from the rich illuminations of his Paris period to his World War II political art to limited edition fine art books such as his famous Passover Haggadah.
Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk
Presentation on Szyk’s art and messages, with an emphasis on the 1940s.
Irvin brings his years of curatorial experience—such as major museum exhibitions at The Library of Congress, The US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and The Deutsches Historisches [German Historical] Museum—to an energetic talk about the life and impact of Polish-Jewish artist Arthur Szyk, emphasizing four themes: World War II, Holocaust, Jewish Response and Advocate for Humanity. Szyk’s illuminated Passover Haggadah has been called one of the greatest illustrated books of all times. He was also the leading political artist in America during WWII, and fought the Nazis through his art. The story of Szyk’s crusade against injustice and tyranny will inspire and inform long-time admirers as well as people who have never encountered the artist before.
“Irvin, you were brilliant…Everyone loved your presentation, your display, and you! It was truly a night unlike any other night.”
— John Windle
Antiquarian Bookseller and Master of the Press, Roxburghe Club, San Francisco
Arthur Szyk: Book Illustrator Extraordinaire
This presentation on Szyk’s wonderfully diverse body of work in book illustration highlights why Arthur Szyk has been called the greatest miniaturist painter since the 16th century. His anti-Nazi art and his 1941 book The New Order have helped him earn the title of “soldier in art” and “one-man army” against Hitler. His celebrated post-WWII works for the Limited Editions Club— The Canterbury Tales and the biblical books of Job and Ruth, as well as his acclaimed 1920s Paris period books of Gustav Flaubert’s La Tentation de Saint Antoine and Pierre Benoit’s Le Puits de Jacob—confirm Arthur Szyk as an artist of international stature. This presentation chronologically traces the illustrious career of one of the most brilliant, extraordinary and diverse artists and book illustrators of the 20th century.
“Here at AJR we are all still talking about how wonderful the evening was…your talk was absolutely fascinating! I can speak both personally and for all those who attended when I say that you spoke eloquently and movingly.”
— Rabbi David Greenstein
Rosh Ha-Yeshivah, The Academy for Jewish Religion, New York
Visions of Israel: The Jewish State through the Art of Arthur Szyk
How a Jewish Activist-Artist Played a Leading Role in Israel’s Creation.
Many people know Arthur Szyk through his famous Passover Haggadah or his illuminations of the Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel and the Visual History of Israel.
Yet these iconic works tell only part of the story of his commitment to his people, for no Jewish artist—or any artist—contributed more to the creation of the State of Israel more than Arthur Szyk. This illustrated presentation traces Szyk’s art and activism over the course of his long career, from his life-changing trip to Palestine in 1914 to the creation of The Haggadah in 1930s Poland to his advocacy—before, during, and after World War II—for the creation of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. The talk will present the full spectrum of Szyk’s long-term public advocacy for the Zionist cause: paintings, book illustrations, magazine covers, editorial cartoons, newspaper advertisements, pamphlets, poster stamps, and more.
“To the Hallowed Memory of Europe’s Martyred Jews”: The Holocaust Art of Arthur Szyk
Presentation of Szyk’s moving Holocaust art, ideal for Yom HaShoah.
This illustrated presentation pays tribute to the memory of European Jewry through the art of Arthur Szyk, the leading artist for Jewish rescue in America during the Holocaust. A self-identified “soldier in art,” Szyk — whom Eleanor Roosevelt called a “one-man army” — fought the Nazis with pen and brush on behalf of the Allies and the Jews of Europe.
“Thanks for sharing so much of your time and expertise with my class yesterday. It was a terrific presentation, and your excitement was contagious. While the arresting beauty of Szyk’s images speaks for itself, the cultural, historical, and biographical context you provided was invaluable. We all learned so much. Thank you! Paul [Hamburg] was absolutely right — the experience was the perfect culmination to our semester.”
— Rabbi Mira Beth Wasserman
Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley
Building Bridges: The Legacy of Polish-Jewish Artist Arthur Szyk, Fighter for Justice and Freedom
Presentation emphasizing Szyk’s works of Polish interest, such as the Statute of Kalisz.
Arthur Szyk (1894 – 1951) often said “Art is not my aim, it is my means,” and his visual commentary before, during, and after World War II relentlessly attacked oppression and tyranny, and served as a weapon for justice and freedom. His worldly concerns and nationalistic tendencies fostered and cultivated a sense of belonging, pride and shared loyalty to differing cultures and countries, chief of which was his concern for Jews and Poles. As such, Arthur Szyk devoted his life and his art toward serving humanity by building bridges between peoples and among nations. This presentation will illuminate how Szyk’s means achieved his ends.