Avant-Garde Art and Yiddish Theater in Poland

In the period between the two world wars, a number of Jewish avant-garde artists—most notably Marc Chagall—designed sets for the still-thriving Yiddish theater in Europe. Alyssa Quint describes the work of some of the most prominent. (For pictures, follow the link below.)

Before creating sets for the Yiddish theater, Zygmunt Balk (1873-1941) worked at the Lwów (now Lviv) Opera House, created set designs for productions of Richard Wagner (among others), and ranked among Poland’s most important 20th-century painters. [The artist] Yosef Shlivniak (born in 1899) collaborated with the actor Zygmunt Turkow on his Yiddish-language staging of Stefan Zweig’s adaptation of Ben Jonson’s Volpone. [Another], Dina Matus, a member of the artistic-literary group Young Yiddish, conceived the Jewish folk motifs and ambience of the pioneering avant-garde director Michał Weichert’s play Trupe Tanentsap (“The Tanentsap Troupe”). . . .

Born in 1891 in Lyuvitsh (Łowicz), Poland, to ḥasidic parents, Władysław Zew (a/k/a Chaim Volf) Wajntraub was drawn to sketching and painting from a young age. Polish artists and art critics recognized Wajntraub’s raw talent, and Poland’s Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts supported his studies in France. In Paris, he met the Russian artist and set designer Leon Bakst (1866-1924) whose influence is responsible for Wajntraub’s decisive commitment to the decorative arts and theater design.

In his book, The Murdered Jewish Artists of Poland, Joseph Sandel writes of Wajntraub:“He was a fantasist, an expressionist with mystic overtones.” Wajntraub worked closely with the modernist poet Moyshe Broderzon (1890-1956) and designed the set for his legendary opera Dovid un Basheva and I.L. Peretz’s Baynakht oyfn altn mark (“Nighttime in the Old Marketplace”). Wajntraub also worked with Weichert who directed a production of Shabse Tsvi (“Sabbatai Tsvi”) in Riga, where newspapers gave equal column space to both director and set designer.

Except for Matus, every one of these artists died during World War II.

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Read more at Yiddish Stage

More about: Arts & Culture, I.L. Peretz, Jewish art, Polish Jewry, Yiddish theater

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy