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Expressionist oil painting of 2 Jewish men talking

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.300

Expressionist oil painting depicting two old, Orthodox Jewish men conversing on the street. Expressionism emerged during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Expressionist artists used color, exaggeration, and distortion of realistic forms to convey emotion and meaning. Expressionist art was often a visual response to or comment on shifts in social and cultural trends. The men have large noses and long beards, two stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. Both are wearing brimmed hats and are dressed in black, which conforms to the Jewish concept of tzniyus (modest dress and behavior) that Orthodox Jews adhere to for religious reasons. Their long, black suit-style jackets are either “rekels” or “bekishes.” Men traditionally wear the fancier bekishe on special occasions, such as Jewish holidays, weddings, or on the Sabbath. The simpler rekel is worn on an everyday basis. In Orthodox Judaism, only men can wear brimmed hats. Jewish boys receive their first hat following their bar mitzvah, when they are ready to observe religious laws and are eligible to take part in public worship. Due to their clothing and other distinctive practices, Hasidic Jews were easy targets for the Nazis and their collaborators. A large number of Hasidic leaders and their followers were killed during the Holocaust. The painting is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Oil paintings.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:12:47
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