Arts features

We’re on the telly

By Simon Round, June 13, 2008

A new BBC series shines a light on Britain’s Jews. Director Vanessa Engle talks to our television critic

There cannot be many more surreal moments in documentary history than the scene in Vanessa Engle’s new film The Prisoner, in which a reformed Chasidic drug-dealer wants to demonstrate how easy it is to swallow a condom packed with grade-A substances. With no cocaine-filled package to hand, he uses the next best thing — a pickled cucumber, which he dispatches in one gulp with the help of a sip of water.


How the cosmetics heir acquired the Bloch-buster

June 6, 2008

Jewish businessman and philanthropist Ronald Lauder bought the gold-encrusted 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I in June 2006. The Klimt masterpiece, which had been looted from its Jewish owner by the Nazis 70 years before, made history when it fetched £73 million, the largest sum ever paid for a painting.


The master of bling

By Anthea Gerrie, June 6, 2008

As the UK’s first Klimt retrospective opens, we examine the artist’s appeal for his Jewish patrons

Was it the sensual curves of his zaftig subjects, the fact that he was a bit of a rebel, or simply his unabashed love of “bling” which so endeared Gustav Klimt to the aspirational Jews of Vienna?

Whatever the attraction, without his wealthy Jewish patrons, the world would not have the spectacular body of work which forms the basis of what is the great Austrian painter’s first-ever British retrospective.

Cindy Lass cultivates Anne Frank’s legacy with a painting of her famous tree

By Candice Krieger, May 30, 2008

North-London artist Cindy Lass has been commissioned by Sir Elton John, George Michael and the Queen. But it is her latest endeavour that she feels particularly passionate about.

The mother-of-two recently completed a painting of “Anne Frank’s tree” for the Anne Frank Trust. The teenager famously looked out on to a chestnut tree, which provided a rare glimpse to the outside world, as she spent two years hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, aged 15.


Apartheid rage, distilled into black-and-white

By David Goldblatt, May 30, 2008

Photographer David Goldblatt spent 60 years chronicling South Africa’s social injustices. He was driven by anger, he says

David goldblatt has been railing against injustice for decades. The award-winning 78-year-old South African photographer has spent the past half-century chronicling the realities of life in his country. Under apartheid, his work was fuelled by anger at the way black people were treated. Post-apartheid, his work is fuelled by his anger that so many injustices still exist.


The graphic art of confessing in public

By Ariel Kahn, May 9, 2008

A new show looks at what happens when we put our most intimate thoughts up for public consumption.

In a cultural climate fascinated by the private self, obsessed with celebrity exposés, and inundated with the daily revelations of countless bloggers, we are rarely provided with the opportunity to reflect on what happens when we put intimate information about ourselves into the public sphere.


The French art of cliché and Middle East bias

By Nick Johnstone, May 2, 2008

Israel fares badly at a Paris exhibition

On the Paris Metro, heading to the Pompidou Centre, there are stickers declaring Israel “a terrorist state”. Once inside Les Inquiets (The Anxious), an exhibition “dealing with the subject of the war in the Middle East” through the work of five artists personally touched by the region’s conflicts, Israel does not fare much better.


Let there be light and sound: Adés does Genesis

By Jean Hannah Edelstein, April 25, 2008

Leading young composer Thomas Adés has enlisted his Israel video-artist partner Tal Rosner to help produce a concerto based on the Book of Genesis. They tell Jean Hannah Edelstein why they wanted to work together


The ‘shiksa goddess’ who acts kosher

By John Nathan, April 25, 2008

Actress Lara Pulver has gone from gentile siren to nice Jewish girl in 12 months. Next stop, Hollywood, she tells John Nathan

From Shiksa Goddess to Jewish princess. For a young actress this is not the most obvious path to stardom. But for Lara Pulver, one of this country’s most promising stage performers, it is a route that last year led to her being nominated for an Olivier Award.

“That the roles are Jewish, or Jewish-related, has been a complete coincidence, to be honest,” says Pulver during a break from rehearsing her latest role.


Haggadot get a comic twist

April 18, 2008

Israeli artists are re-imagining the ancient story using modern cartoon characters and graphic-novel techniques

Uri Fink and Zoya Cherkassky are part of a long list of highly talented Israeli artists who have set their hands to creating unusual haggadot. Russian-born, Tel Aviv-based and devoutly secular, Cherkassky was influenced by images by El Lissitsky, the Russian Constructivist movement and Bauhaus to create her edited version of a Haggadah.