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'Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk' Showcases Work of Renowned Painter, Social and Civil Rights Advocate
BOCA RATON, FL (November 2, 2007) -Florida Atlantic University Libraries are presenting “Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk,” a travelling exhibition on the life and art of renowned religious artist and political cartoonist Arthur Szyk, from Thursday, November 1 through Sunday, December 30, 2007, at the S.E. Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.
The exhibition, which includes Szyk’s art on World War II, America and the Jewish Response, runs the gamut from political cartoons and illuminated manuscripts to postage stamps, miniature paintings and corporate advertising. All of the art is rich in diverse colors, folklore and themes of individual and national freedom, human dignity and religious tolerance.
Szyk’s career as an artist, cartoonist and illustrator spanned 37 years and two World Wars. He advocated for social justice and civil liberties in America and was known as “Franklin Roosevelt’s Soldier in Art.” Eleanor Roosevelt declared that his work fought the Axis powers “as truly as any of us who cannot actually be on the fighting fronts.”
“There was not just one issue for Arthur Szyk. There were several issues and several layers,” said Irv Ungar, the exhibition’s curator and president of the Arthur Szyk Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the renaissance of Szyk’s art. “His art is not reflective of what some government might say, or what some religion might say or what some nationality might advocate, but it really was his own sense of what was right and what was wrong.”
The Book of Esther, which features his trademark calligraphic Hebrew and ornamental miniatures, and his illumination of the Haggadah, which is considered one of his most famous and sought-after works, are featured in the exhibition.
In addition to scholars considering Syzk the greatest 20 th century illuminator working in the style of the 16 th century miniature artist painters, they also considered him the leading political caricaturist in America during World War II. American newspapers and magazines used Szyk’s work on their covers, and American troops asked the U.S. military to send some of Szyk’s art drawings to the troops in the field.
“He had incredible talent for drawing,” said Highland Beach resident Alexandra Bracie, Szyk’s daughter. “He had an unusual retention of memory -- historical figures, soldiers, politicians -- anything historical. He never used models. He worked on the tables in complete silence.”
In addition to the travelling exhibition, original Szyk illustrations from Bracie’s personal collection, along with mementos of her father, will be displayed in the Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts located on the library’s third floor east. Among them are photographs of her father with Eleanor Roosevelt, papers, letters, books of his illustrations, and Syzk’s box of art brushes and pens.
Szyk began sketching from his imagination at age 4 and continued until his death in 1951 at age 57. Bracie cannot remember a moment when her father was not drawing or painting. “He was there working when I left for school in the morning. He would take a break for lunch and a siesta and then worked straight through until dinner,” said Bracie.
In 1934, Szyk received the U.S. Congressional George Washington Medal of Honor, and later immigrated to America in December 1940, where he lived until his death.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and other prestigious museums permanently house Szyk’s work. The travelling exhibition has appeared at almost a dozen universities, galleries and museums across the county.
“At each showing, I am struck by the ability of Szyk’s work and messages to profoundly affect people today, even though his art was created more than half a century ago,” Ungar said.
The exhibition is free and open to the public. For library hours, visit www.library.fau.edu/geninfo/hours.htm or call 561-297-3770. The Jaffe Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 561-297-2116 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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