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"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Swords" Exhibit to Celebrate Greenberg Center’s 25th Anniversary

Posted 10/07/2010
Posted by David Isgur

The University of Hartford and its Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, in partnership with the New Britain Museum of American Art, will open an extraordinary new exhibition, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Swords: The Art of Arthur Szyk with an opening lecture and reception at the NBMAA.  This event, part of a series of exciting and meaningful programming to celebrate the Greenberg Center's 25th anniversary year, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m. at the New Britain Museum (56 Lexington St., New Britain) and feature an opening lecture by Steven Luckert, curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  The exhibition will remain on display through Jan. 30, 2011 and will feature a series of four public programs at the New Britain Museum, as well as a second exhibition to open at the George and Lottie Sherman Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford on Nov. 8, 2010.

The 25th anniversary of the Greenberg Center will combine high quality Judaica exhibits and accompanying lectures both on campus and in the community, programming which has been hallmarks of the Greenberg Center since 1985. According to Greenberg Center Director Richard Freund, "Starting with the Precious Legacy at the Wadsworth Athenaeum and lectures by Elie Wiesel, Sir Martin Gilbert, Chief Archaeologist of Jerusalem Dan Bahat, Chief Justice of Israel's Supreme Court Aharon Barak, and Israeli President Shimon Peres, our combination of lectures and exhibits for the community and the campus have spanned the entire history of Judaism and Israel."

Exhibition Background:
Arthur Szyk (pronounced Shick) was described by Eleanor Roosevelt as a "one-man army," using art as a weapon to garner support for the social and political issues in which he believed. Szyk dedicated his work to democracy, freedom, and an end to political injustice and human suffering, saying of his work, "Art is not my aim, it is my means."

Born in Lodz, Poland in 1894 to a Jewish family, he studied art in Paris and lived in London before immigrating to the United States in 1940. Throughout his career, Syzk produced illustrated books and illuminated manuscripts, including his well-known Passover Haggadah, the Szyk Hagaddah, as well as commercial art and posters, stamps for humanitarian causes, and political cartoons which appeared in many important newspapers and magazines during World War II.

Szyk was proud of his Jewish heritage, a devoted Polish nationalist, a staunch Zionist, and a loyal American (who lived in New Canaan, Conn., before he passed away in 1951). These influences converged to create his prolific and varied body of work.  As he wrote in his collection of works, Ink and Blood, published in 1946, "Words and pictures are bullets whose flight never ends. Their trajectory knows no down curve. They endure long after the guns are silenced."

All of the artwork to be exhibited at the NBMAA and the Sherman Museum is on loan from The Gregg and Michelle Philipson Collection, Austin, Tex.  Many of the works were previously exhibited at a show at the Holocaust Museum Houston, called "One Man Army: the Art of Arthur Szyk."  Gregg Philipson, who has been an executive in the technology industry for many years,  and his wife Michelle, are avid art and stamp collectors and have many collections relating to a wide variety of subjects including the Holocaust, Jewish military history and the Warsaw Ghetto.  After the October 24 opening with Steven Luckert, Gregg Philipson will be featured in the next program at the NBMAA on Nov. 7, a panel discussion called The Art of Collecting.  He will also deliver the keynote lecture at the opening of the Sherman Museum of Jewish Civilization's parallel exhibition opening, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Swords: The Art of Arthur Szyk and Dr. Seuss on Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in the 1877 Club at the University of Hartford.

Sunday October 24, 2010, 2 p.m.
Steven Luckert, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Curator, Permanent Exhibition
"The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk"
Luckert, who curated the Museum's newest major exhibition, STATE OF DECEPTION: THE POWER OF NAZI PROPAGANDA, curated The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk, which was on display at USHMM from April 10 until Oct. 14, 2002 and presented 145 original pieces of his work during the course of the show, some of them on public display for the first time in more than 50 years. Unlike any previous exhibition, The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk explored Szyk's life and work within the context of Holocaust history.  Luckert will examine this relationship in his lecture, which will open the exhibition at NBMAA.

Sunday, November 7, 2:30 p.m.
New Britain Museum of American Art and the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Joint Symposium at the NBMAA
"The Art of Collecting"
Chaired by Cheryl Chase, NBMAA
Gregg Philipson (Austin, TX)
Joel Grae and SusAnna Grae (New York)
Respondent: Sherry Buckberrough, Chair, Department of Art History, University of Hartford
The Philipsons are avid art and stamp collectors and have many collections relating to a wide variety of subjects.  Joel Grae is an entrepreneur in the fields of medical bio-technology and nuclear energy.  He is a graduate of NYU Law School and a member of the New York State Bar.  SusAnna Bernard-Grae has had an extensive corporate career in marketing and owned her own consulting company.  The Joel and SusAnna Grae Mediterranean Collection, currently on loan to the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, covers three thousand years of Jewish and middle eastern history, with items from the ancient, medieval, and modern period in Israel, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece.  The panel discussion, chaired by Chase, who is also a serious art collector, will explore the motivations of major art collectors and the relationship between collectors and museums.  Buckberrough, chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Hartford, will contextualize the discussion from the perspective of the academic field of art history.

Thursday, December 2, 6 p.m., NBMAA
Professor Avinoam Patt, University of Hartford
"Szyk: An American Jewish Original"
Patt is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Sherman Museum of Jewish Civilization.  He is the curator of A Picture is Worth a Thousand Swords and will speak on the unique political, cultural, and social influence of Arthur Szyk as a politically relevant artist who stood at the intersection of the most important events in modern Jewish history.  Patt is the author of two books, Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust and We are Here: New Approaches to Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 6 p.m.
International Holocaust Memorial Day
Professor Walter Metz, Southern Illinois University
"The Art of Illustrating in a Time of Persecution: Arthur Szyk and Dr. Seuss"
Metz is the chair and associate professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Cinema and Photography.  Metz is the author of two books, Engaging Film Criticism: Film History and Contemporary American Cinema, and Bewitched, an in-depth analysis of the hit television series and its cultural impact. He is also the author of 30 journal articles and book chapters, many of which center on the relationship between films and the novels they are based on.  His lecture, which coincides with International Holocaust Memorial Day, will examine the relationship between Arthur Szyk and Dr. Seuss's representations of the Holocaust and their reception by the public.

For further information on the exciting programming planned for the Greenberg Center's 25th anniversary year, including information on a special patrons preview event to be held at the NBMAA for sponsors of A Picture is Worth a Thousand Swords: The Illustrations of Arthur Szyk, on October 21, please visit Greenberg Center or call 860.768.4964 or email