Arts features

The Wagners and Hitler: a family affair

By Nicola Christie, September 10, 2009

When South Bank Show host Melvyn Bragg sat down to watch the first film of the flagship arts programme’s final series, he turned to the director Tony Palmer and asked: “Are you expecting me to believe all this?”

It is a question viewers will also raise when Palmer’s documentary about Richard Wagner and his relatives airs on Sunday, revealing, as it does, the family’s entanglement with Hitler and the Nazis.


GP who had his stethoscope turned into Surrealist art

By Julia Weiner, September 9, 2009

Jewish collectors lead the field in Britain when it comes to contemporary art — Charles Saatchi, Anita Zabludowicz and Frank Cohen have all opened galleries featuring selections from their extensive collections. However, all three are multimillionaires. So is it possible to build up an important art collection on a more modest salary?


Laugh? They nearly did

September 9, 2009

Since I began my stand-up career on the opening night of the Comedy Store in May 1979, I have chalked up countless gigs both here and abroad.

However, my appearance at the recent English comedy night held at Berlin’s Kookaburra club ranked as the most unusual I have ever done. This was my first-ever visit to Germany, and I decided before the gig to go on successive days to the city’s Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial. My mind was filled afterwards with haunting images.


Why do Jewish women excel at documentary-making?

By Alex Kasriel, September 3, 2009

There is a new generation of British female film-makers making waves on UK TV — and many of them happen to be Jewish.

Over the past couple of years, these 30-something women have been busy making documentary films for Channel Four and the BBC on everything from fraudsters to Motown artists.


Close up on Paul Newman

By Melanie Abrams, September 3, 2009

For 30 years, a collection of iconic photos of Paul Newman lay forgotten. They may have remained so but for the son of Leo Fuchs, who discovered them eight years ago, stacked in unmarked boxes.

Alexandre Fuchs was stunned — the photographs reveal film stars of the ’50s and ’60s including Newman, Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn in unusually private moments; off-set, even sleeping. Also, Alexandre had no idea that his father was a photographer — he had only known him only as a film producer.


Genius whose art was put in a freak show

By Julia Weiner, August 27, 2009

Sir Jacob Epstein, who died 50 years ago this month, is recognised as one of the great sculptors of the 20th century, a true revolutionary who helped change modern art forever. The Royal Academy in London is honouring his achievement with an exhibition in the autumn, while the Ben Uri gallery organised a tour of his public commissions around the capital. During his life, however, Epstein was not always greeted with such admiration.


The forgotten treasure hunt

By Jenni Frazer, August 20, 2009

Robert Edsel reaches to the side of his seat and produces a large cardboard box, adorned with the black and red of the Nazi swastika. With the air of a conjurer, he puts on a pair of white gloves and draws out of the box a leather-bound album, its cover barely clinging to the hinges.


Opening the book on modern photography

By Melanie Abrams, August 13, 2009

With his Leica camera in hand, André Kertész wandered city streets, photographing people going about their daily lives. It helped him, he felt, come to terms with being an outsider, first as a Jew in early 20th-century Hungary, then as a émigré in Paris between the wars, and then in New York.


Hunting communists? They were really after Jews

By Michael Freedland, August 6, 2009

It was a milestone in Hollywood history — actors, writers, producers blacklisted for their political beliefs. Sixty years ago, men and women, some of them with flourishing careers, were made to answer the question: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a communist?”


How Zayde’s wisecracks stormed the internet

By Mel Poluck, July 30, 2009

Old Jews Telling Jokes. Sounds like the last family gathering you went to, right?

But it is also the name of a website where you can watch old Jewish people spinning yarns with the delivery and comic timing that comes only with decades of practice.

That’s right. Jokes told by alter kakas — on demand.

The American website (, which has had over three million hits since it was set up in February, is the brainchild of director, producer and Woody Allen collaborator, Sam Hoffman.