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Among the most important components of The Magnes pictorial holdings

is a collection of nearly one thousand posters acquired worldwide since


the 1960s. This diverse and fascinating group of works has been acquired
via a broad network of paper and print collectors, purchased in museum
stores, or simply taken off walls in the streets of cities around the world.
Collectively, these materials represent an invaluable source of historical
information. Their scope encompasses daily life, politics, advertising,
communal events, culture and the arts in the United States, Europe,
andIsrael across the 20th century.
This exhibition brings together a group of posters that showcase a variety
of theatrical and other cultural events centering on Jewish themes,
presented over the past one hundred years in various venues and contexts.
The announcements were written in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, German,
English, French, and Bosnian. The productions touched on a wide range of
topics, from tales and parables drawn from the Hebrew Bible and Jewish
folklore, to cultural identity, history and politics.
Visually these posters could not be more diverse, ranging from religious
and folk motifs to modernism. This broad swing in styles also parallels
to some extent the significant shifts in 20th-century theatrical culture.
Through a distancing gesture that separates them from early-modern
theater, contemporary productions often feature Jews and Jewish themes
as integral to culture and society, rather than as stylizedand often
culturally stereotypedcharacters. Contemporary Jewish playwrights,
actors, directors, and producers appearing in modern theater posters
are thus mentioned by name and celebrated in their roles, as the sole
protagonists of a narrative that sees them voicing a globally recognized
Jewish cultural identity firmly placed at center stage.
FRANCESCO SPAGNOLO AND LAUREN COOPER

The Modernist poster is characterized by stark contrast and


minimal detail that immediately convey the posters message
to the passerby. Similarly, on the Jewish stage the Modernist
drama allows biblical themes to function as a framework
through which contemporary social problemsfrom womens
rights to political separatismcan come to the fore.
1

Felice Pazner Malkin (b. 1929)

akhzar mi-kol ha-melekh. habimah (Cruelest of AllThe King. Habimah)


Hebrew
Tel Aviv, Israel, Habima Theater, 1953
Linocut print on paper
Gift of Mira Fromer Amiras, 75.236

Promotional poster for a play by Nissim Aloni (19261998), centered on the


biblical figure of King Jeroboam, presented by Habimah, the National Theater of
Israel, in1953.
2

Maxwell Armfield (18811972)

Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn in Miriam, Sister of Moses


English
Berkeley, CA, United States, Greek Theatre, 1919
Offset Lithograph
2015.0.14

Promotional poster for a biblical play by Maxwell Armfield and Constance


Smedley Armfield (18751941), staged at the Greek Theatre of the University of
California, Berkeley. The play highlighted the Universitys role as a site of cultural
production. The curatorial staff of the former Judah L. Magnes Museum acquired
this poster in an attempt to document the appearance of Jewish theatrical themes
on the stages of Berkeley, California.

Some Jewish theater troupes enjoyed long and stable lives,


and others faded away only to reemerge with a new name
or location, yearsandsometimes decadeslater. Others
still were created for specific tours and disbanded shortly
after. Poster art is often the only means to fully document
their history.

Thtre Isralite Rue de Lancry, 10 [] daniel in leven grub


Yiddish and French
Paris, France, I. Bernas, 1903
Letterpress with halftone
Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase, 79.0.1.1

Poster for the Yiddish-language Thtre Isralite (Jewish Theater), based at the
Thtre Lancry (est. 1880), in Paris 10th arrondissement, where the Yiddish plays
of Abraham Goldfaden had been presented since 1894. The poster announced the
staging, for the first time in Paris, of the operetta, Daniel in the Lions Den by the
Rumanian Yiddish playwright, Yoysef Lateiner (18531935), starring Max Guzovsky
and Matilde Rubenstein.
4

Ershter yidisher folks-teater fun Nachum Lipovski [Nachum Lipovskis First


Yiddish Folk Theater]
shema yisroel Hre Israel (Hear O Israel)
Yiddish and German
Vilnius, Poland (present-day Lithuania), M. Dworschetz, n.d. [19081920]
Letterpress
2015.0.17

Promotional poster for a play by Osip Dymov (18781950), dedicated to the victims
of the 1906 Bialystok pogrom, and performed at the Vilna Yiddish Folk Theater,
managed by Nachum Lipovski (18741928).
5

Ershter yidisher folks-teater fun Nachum Lipovski [Nachum Lipovskis First


Yiddish Folk Theater]

yoel Joel
Yiddish and German
Vilnius, Poland (present-day Lithuania), M. Dworschetz, n.d. [19081920]
Letterpress
2015.0.16

Promotional poster for a play by Peretz Hirschbein (18801948), performed at the


Vilna Yiddish Folk Theater, managed by Nachum Lipovski (18741928).
6

kart (est. 1990)

Priseanje na Izgubljeno / U Slavu ivota (Honoring Loss / Celebrating Life)


Bosnian and English
Belgrade, Serbia, Uniprint, 1994
Offset lithograph
Gift of Naomi Newman, Corey Fischer, Albert Greenberg, and Helen Stoltzfus, 2015.4.21.2

Promotional poster for a three-week tour organized in 1994 by a group of San


Francisco-based women artists, including actors from the Jewish Theater San
Francisco (A Traveling Jewish Theatre). The project included performances and
workshops held in theaters and refugee camps across war-torn former Yugoslavia.

A dybbuk, present in Jewish folklore going back to the


Talmudic period, is a mythical evil spirit thought to inhabit
the bodies of the living. In Jewish theater, the most wellknown treatment of the dybbuk comes from the 1916 play
The Dybbuk (Yid., Der dibek; Heb., ha-dibuq), a dramatic
work, composed first in Russian and later in Yiddish by the
writer, ethnographer, and revolutionary S. An-ski (Shloyme
Zaynvl Rapoport, 18631920), centering on the story of a
woman possessed by the spirit of her dead beloved.
7

Elly Simmons (b. 1955)

Dybbuk
English
San Francisco, Calif., United States, Jewish Theater San Francisco (A Traveling Jewish Theatre),
1988
Offset Lithograph
Gift of Jewish Theater San Francisco, 2015.4.21.1

Promotional poster for an English adaptation of the classic play by


S. An-ski, performed at the Jewish Theater San Francisco (A Traveling Jewish
Theatre) in 1989.
8

Teatron Zavit

ha-dibuq mi-neveh shaanan (The Dybbuk from Neve Shaanan)


Hebrew
Jerusalem, Israel, 1967
Offset Lithograph
2015.0.18

Promotional poster for a comedy by Amitzur Ilan (b. 1932), centered on the the
appearance of a dybbuk in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, and performed by the
Zavit Theater Company.
9

Marian Stachurski (19311980)

Dybuk
Polish
Warsaw, Poland, Pastwowy Teatr ydowski im E. R. Kamiskiej, 1974
Offset lithograph
Gift of Anne Lewin, 88.7

Promotional poster for the performance of S. An-skis play by the Polish EsterRokhl Kaminska State Yiddish Theater

The modern Yiddish stage is closely connected with a variety


of musical repertories, ranging from Yiddish folk and art
songs to Klezmer music, used to accompany wedding scenes.
Drawing on traditional styles, Jewish folklore, and popular
themes from Europe and the Americas, music on the Jewish
stage is often designed to evoke a distinctive sense of cultural
identity in the audience.
10

Le Theatre Musical Juif de Moscou


French
Vincennes, France, Rosay, 1990
Offset lithograph
Gift of Walter Spitzer, 90.25.7

Featuring the painting, Melodie hassidique, by Walter Spitzer (b. 1927), this
promotional poster was created for the debut of the Jewish Chamber Musical
Theater in western Europe. Established in 1977, the company was formed in the
Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan within the Soviet Union, and based
inMoscow.
11

Doc Levin Cabinet de Graphisme Gnral (est. 1984)

Yiddish? Yiddish!
French
Paris, France, Muse dArt et dHistoire du Judasme, 2000
Offset lithograph
Gift of Seymour Fromer, 2000.23

Poster for the exhibition, Yiddish? Yiddish!, at the Muse dArt et dHistoire
du Judasme (Museum of Jewish Art and History) in Paris, France, organized
in collaboration with the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, New York. The
exhibition featured klezmer music, the film Le thtre kasrilvien (The Theater of
Kasrilevke, ca.1935) by Sam Ringer (19181986), and puppets from the Hakl-Bakl
Theater (Jewish Puppet Theater of Paris).
12

Marian Stachurski (19311980)

Herszee z Ostropola (Hershel of Ostropol)


Polish
Warsaw, Poland, Pastwowy Teatr ydowski im E. R. Kamiskiej, 1974
Offset lithograph
Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase, 79.51

Promotional poster for a musical comedy by Jakub Zonszajn (19141962), based on


a Yiddish folk figure and performed at the Polish Ester-Rokhl Kaminska State
Yiddish Theater in 1974.

EXHIBITION TEAM
Curator:

Francesco Spagnolo
Undergraduate Curatorial Apprentice:

Lauren Cooper (Comparative Literature 2016)


Registrar:

Julie Franklin
Preparator:

Ernest Jolly
Design:

Gordon Chun Design


Major support for The Magnes comes from the Helzel Family Foundation,
the Magnes Museum Foundation, The Magnes Leadership Circle, and
The Office of the Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley.