Top 10 Israel Museum summer exhibits

Finally, a closer look in the not not-so-foreign lives of the ultra-Orthodox.

Orthodox (photo credit: Menahem Kahana)
(photo credit: Menahem Kahana)
Glimpses into the lives of hasidic Jews
This exhibition explores the lesser-known aspects of the culture of hasidic Jews. The hasidic experience is illuminated through the costumes of men, women and children, with their rich inner codes, together with objects relating to their social and spiritual lives, and with an accompanying exploration of the connection between hassidim and their charismatic leaders, or rebbes.
Costumes and objects, photographs, films and music shed light on life cycle events and seasonal traditions, helping a broader public to engage with the world of these little known ultra-Orthodox communities and their practices.
Until November 30, 2012.
Presenting approximately 50 works by contemporary artists from Israel and worldwide, as well as objects of Jewish world culture and archeology, and illustrated books. “Good Night” shows the process of falling asleep as a ritual passage from one state of being to another, particularly in the world of children, where the experience of being put to bed ranges from reading books and singing lullabies to reassurances against natural anxieties.
While most of the works address the ritual of sleep and the world inside the bedroom and in the sleeper’s head, others focus on the nighttime world outside the bedroom and the night sky. The works in “Good Night” are drawn from contemporary international and Israeli sources. Some works were created especially for the exhibition, including The Lullaby Project (Hadassa Goldvicht and Anat Vovnoboi) and a sound installation by Julianne Swartz.
At the Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education, until February 2, 2013.
What do the Queen of England and Og, King of Bashan, have in common? What is more colorful – poems about daily life or fictional poetry? And most importantly, how do you take care of cats? The answers to all these questions may be found in the pages of the books selected to receive this year’s Israel Museum Illustration Award. The exhibition showcases a selection of the winning illustrations, alongside preparatory drawings and sketches. Together they seek to illustrate the book’s conception, placing special emphasis on the illustrator’s creative process – translating the words of the story into characters and images.
Illustration, That’s the Whole Story,” at the Ruth Youth Wing Library, until September 30, 2012
4. THE JEWS OF TANGIERS: Orientalist drawings by Dehodencq
This exhibition sheds light on the Orientalist drawings of Alfred Dehodencq (1822–1882), a French painter and draughtsman who traveled frequently to Tangiers between 1853 and 1863. After finishing his education and being wounded in the Spring of Nations events in 1848 Paris, Dehodencq moved to Spain for a number of years. In 1953, he made his first trip to North Africa, searching for new artistic inspiration in the footsteps of Delacroix and other 19th-century Orientalist artists. Settling in Tangiers, he became acquainted with the local Jewish community and explored their everyday life in his work. The majority of drawings in “The Jews of Tangiers” are gifts to the museum from collectors Philippe Cohen and Gerard Levi.
Until September 8, 2012.
5. WHITE GOLD: Revealing the world's earliest coins
“White Gold” provides an intimate glimpse into the dawn of coinage, shedding light on the story of one of the most important innovations in human history. The earliest coins were struck in the late seventh century BCE in western Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), which was home to many Greek cities.
Those early coins were nugget-like in shape and made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Electrum coins are not only historically significant but also astonishingly beautiful.
Reflecting a rich diversity of subjects, they trace the evolution of Greek art from the sixth through the fourth century BCE and draw us magnetically into a vibrant and fascinating iconographic world.
Until March 30, 2013.
6. NEUSTEIN: Drawing in the margins
This retrospective of the work of Joshua Neustein explores the artist’s role in the development of drawing in Israel and internationally over the past 50 years.
A Guggenheim fellow, Neustein’s pioneering and experimental works have helped to redefine the medium, through his use of torn paper, folded airplanes, traditional drawing and drawing installations, in such varied media as steel wool, carbon paper and video.
Until October 27, 2012.
7.BEUYS / KANTOR: RememberingThis exhibition is a parallel story of the life and work of renowned artists Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) and Tadeusz Kantor (1915–1990).
The history and the complex relations among Germans, Poles and Jews are among the topics examined in the first exhibition to present the works of Beuys and Kantor together, which also marks the first time Beuys’s work has been showcased in Israel.
Focusing on major 20th-century events as they resonate throughout the work of these two artists, the exhibition features some 60 works on loan from public collections, in a variety of mediums including drawing, three-dimensional works and installation, together with films documenting the artists’ performance and theater pieces.
Until October 27, 2012. 8. CROSSPLAY: Male actors, female roles in Kabuki theater
Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of theater, first established in the early 17th century to cater to the taste of the growing class of town’s folk. Its drama deals with daily conflicts of Japanese life, myth and historical tales of ancient Japan.
After the Tokugawa shogunate government banned female acting on stage in 1629, the art of female impersonating flourished. Not just a well-disguised man, the onnagata role went beyond mere mimicking and established its own staged femininity.
Eventually, the virtuoso onnagata actor gained high popularity and desirability as erotic object for both sexes and as a fashion trend-setter in the big cities of Japan.
This exhibition showcases prints, paintings and original kabuki theater costumes exhibiting in Israel for the first time, in an attempt to highlight the important role of the female impersonators in the popular Japanese kabuki theater in the Edo period (1615-1868).
July 3 – November 10, 2012.
9. FRANK AUERBACH – Portraits on paper
British artist Frank Auerbach is renowned for his expressive oil paintings. This exhibition features his graphic work – prints and drawings from 1980-98 portraying his family members and friends. Auerbach tends to paint the same people over and over again. They frequent his West London studio week by week, on a set day and time, and sit for him as he paints.
Some have been doing so for 20 years, while others have persevered for the past 50 years. Yet he seems to see something else each time anew.
Until August 24.
A special exhibit features a rare fragment of the Aleppo Codex saved from a pogrom in December 1, 1947. The charred fragment was picked up by the late Sam Sabbagh, who was the first to enter the Aleppo synagogue. He kept it as a kind of amulet throughout his travels, until he finally settled in Brooklyn, New York. His heirs donated it to Jerusalem’s Ben Zvi Institute, which eventually transferred it to the Israel Museum.
At the Shrine of the Book.