When Eva Hesse died at the age of 34, she was a well-known and successful artist. In the 40 years since her death, she has become even more famous, recognised as a key figure in the history of post-war art.
Hesse wrote about her life that, “there isn’t a thing that hasn’t been extreme — personal health, family, economic situations”, and she was not exaggerating. Tragedy seemed to follow her about.
At any murder, car crash or arrest in New York during the 1930s and 1940s, Weegee was invariably the first photographer on the scene. Often, he arrived before the authorities — getting early information about crimes from monitoring the police radios he had installed in his car and home, or from tip-offs from his network of bookies, pimps, call girls, and con men.
This seeming foresight gave him his nickname, Weegee — adapted from ouija boards used at seances. His real name was Usher (he changed it later to Arthur) Fellig, from Austrian Galicia, now part of the Ukraine.
One day earlier this month Charles Saatchi and Anita Zabludowicz found themselves together in a room in East London, searching for the new Damien Hirst. The two hugely influential art collectors were attending the opening day of Bloomberg New Contemporaries, an annual exhibition which, for the past 60 years, has been showcasing the kind of young talent that goes on to make it big in the art world.
Mitch Albom might just be the biggest author you have never heard of. His novels have shifted 30 million copies worldwide, with his latest book, Have A Little Faith, having been a fixture in the top 20 best-seller list in the United States since it was published in September. Previous novels The Five People You Meet In Heaven and For One More Day were instant number ones on the New York Times’s bestsellers list. He is perhaps best known for Tuesdays With Morrie, a memoir about the time the author spent with his old college professor before he died.
The man on the corner of Bilu and Marmorek breaks off his conversation as I pass and says: “Do you know why this street is called Bilu?” He is wearing a khaki shirt and shorts, has a grey beard, and looks like an anachronism in Tel Aviv.
I shake my head.
“It’s an acronym made from the initial letters of Beit Ya’akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha — Let the house of Jacob go — the war-cry, if I can call it that, of a dozen or so idealists who came to Palestine from Russia in 1882.”
Frank Auerbach is one of Britain’s most renowned painters. A refugee from Nazism, he arrived in this country alone aged seven from Berlin — his parents perished in the Holocaust. Now aged 78, he has been painting the same subjects for almost 50 years — the cityscape around his studio in Camden Town, north London, and a group of regular models.
A new exhibition of his early work has just opened at the Courtauld Gallery in London. It focuses on a group of 14 paintings of building sites in London between 1952 and 1962.
A plastic bag full of rubbish; piles and piles of newspaper; a vandalised car. No, not a street in a particularly blighted housing estate, but London’s Serpentine Gallery, which is currently hosting the work of influential Jewish artist, Gustav Metzger.
The exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the date when Metzger decided to abandon painting to use everyday objects in his art as a critique of the terrible wastage of consumer society. Now aged 83, he continues to make new work that acts as a wake-up call to the public.
Instead of dwelling on the bad luck that a thirteenth anniversary year could bring, the UK Jewish Film Festival is, fittingly, celebrating its barmitzvah year.
It will be the biggest ever year for the festival, which started life as the Brighton Jewish Film Festival back in 1996 before relocating to London and rebranding itself as the UK Jewish Film Festival in 2004.
The Coen brothers new film A Serious Man tops the bill at the festival, along with the UK Premiere of Adam Ressurected director by Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader and starring Jeff Goldblem.
Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
The legendary Russian-born pianist comes to the UK to conduct the LPO in a concert of Shostakovich’s mighty 8th Symphony and Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. An invigorating way to start off the New Year after the Rosh Hashanah hibernation. Tuesday September 22, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, 0871 663 2500, www.southbankcentre.co.uk