Very often, it is difficult to find resources in English for research in Eastern Europe. Fortunately, Dr. Vilma Gradinskaite has written an article in English entitled “The First Exhibitions of Jewish Artists in Kaunas (1920-1940) from the Art Critic’s Perspective”, which was published in “IGGUD Selected Essays in Jewish Studies, Vol. 3, pages 115-129, The Hebrew University-Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 2007. This article is now available on the LitvakSIG Online Journal by clicking here
Originally from Birzai, Dr. Gradinskaite is prolific scholar
A well-known lecturer and writer, Dr. Gradinskaite has focused on Jewish art in Lithuania. She has served as the Curator, Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania
You can read more about her on her web site: http://www.jewishart.lt. The site has a listing of eighty-nine Jewish artists, some of whom were world famous and others who were only known locally in Lithuania. Their range is the Litvak world which covered the Baltics and Belarus. It is a remarkable resource which can be found here.
The site contains such artists as Viktor David Brenner (Siauliai), Elias Kivel Kaplan (Marijampole), Gdaliya Kreingel (Kalvarija), Jacques Lipschitz (Druskininkai), Esther Lurie (Liepaja), and Abraham Sherenson, an artist from my ancestral shtetl of Kupiskis, Lithuania. Many names contain the name of the town of origin which is helpful in determining whether they are related to researchers.
In addition to what you can learn from Dr. Gradinskaite’s article and site, followup can be done on a number of artists not mentioned by going to the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum site. An example is the exhibit “The World of Litvak Artists/The Chvoles Dynasty
Another museum which contains information on Litvak artists is The Israel Museum Israel Art Center site. Look up can be done via alphabetical search. An example is Joshua Jashpan
For some artists, you will find images of their artistic work which are housed at the Museum such as Chaim Soutine,
Articles and sites such as Dr. Gradinskaite’s and the wealth of information found in Jewish museums, help us to preserve the artistic legacy of our families. It adds to our knowledge of this aspect of our cultural heritage and also reminds us of the great beauty and skills that were lost forever as a result of the war.
Please contact the Blog, if you recognize any of the artists in the article or in the list, or if you know of other Jewish artists who are not listed. This will assist Dr. Gradinskaite with her continuing research about Jewish artists.