The Jews Who Helped Vincent van Gogh Get into the Mainstream

Oct. 27 2021

Even after Vincent van Gogh’s death in 1890, his works were considered too avant garde for most of the art market. It was largely thanks to Jewish dealers and connoisseurs that his work reached its current fame. In an interview with Matt Lebovic, Charles Delheim—author of a recent book on Jews and modern art—explains this role:

The process of commercializing van Gogh started 120 years ago, when the German-Jewish art collector Paul Cassirer staged the first showing of the Dutch painter’s works in Berlin. After that exhibition, van Gogh’s legacy — and modern art, in general—became intertwined with the trajectory of European Jews.

Dellheim spoke about the “risk-taking” qualities of Cassirer and other Jews who helped van Gogh achieve posthumous fame. More than a century later, van Gogh paintings that were once owned by Jews still make headlines in connection to having been looted by Nazi Germany.

Among the modernist painters adored by Jewish collectors, van Gogh figured prominently. Within two decades of the artist’s death, a good deal of his paintings and drawings had been purchased by Jewish collectors. . . . For years, Cassirer had been imploring Johanna van Gogh—the widow of Vincent’s brother and sponsor, Theo—to permit him to show some of van Gogh’s paintings. A breakthrough came in 1901, when Cassirer was able to show five of van Gogh’s works in an annual “Berlin Secession” exhibition of modernist artists.

Beginning in the 1920s, [by contrast], racial propaganda branded Jews and modern art as “alien elements” to be eliminated. The post-World War I “stab-in-the-back” myth, for example, included the backstory of Jews “poisoning” Germany’s “racial community” with influences such as “degenerate” art and social movements.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Art, German Jewry, Jewish history

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship