An investigation of twentieth century observant Jewish fine artists

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Art Education

First Advisor's Name

Joseph B. Cook

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Clement J. Pennington

Third Advisor's Name

Stephen M. Fain


Jewish art, Jewish artists, Judaism and art

Date of Defense



People of the Jewish faith base their belief on the written word of the Torah. Presented in this paper are fine artists that produce work within these laws. The Torah sets guidelines for life and morality. The belief system within this domain is that visual images have an impact on the viewers, and artists are accountable for what they produce. This is in opposition with art education, where freedom of expression takes precedence over morality. The results of this study will form the basis for a curriculum for the community college.

The researcher's area of inquiry is directed to painting and sculpture made by artists of the Jewish faith who follow the Torah, meaning those who are observant of their faith and practices. Their skills and perceptions will be presented to educate the viewer about their visions. The research questions were posed to rabbinical authorities and artists in order to establish a clear and defined statement of what the Jewish law is regarding the fine arts.

The evidence presented was obtained by questionnaires, personal interviews, articles, and opinions from Jewish scholars. Four rabbis were selected based on their erudition on Torah law, and their strong leadership positions in Jewish educational institutions. The ten artists were selected based on recommendations from art historians, and art and gallery directors. The artists and the rabbis were mailed questionnaires, which was followed by an interview.

The conclusion from this study is that fine artists are encouraged to use their talents, this is supported by the Torah text, and rabbinic explanation. The restriction for the Jewish artist is in making a replication of a realistic full-scale figure, making a visual rendition of G-d, a nude, or violent image. Art is made by the observant Jew with the intention of enhancing the world with visions inspired by their belief in the Torah. A crucial belief in Judaism is that there is but one G-d, and all man-made images should reflect the majesty of G-d's creations.



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