Art History Papers

 

To date, the Arthur Szyk Society has published five original works of art historical scholarship. Please contact us if you wish to purchase a copy at: info@szyk.org


Art History Publication Series No. 5

“Arthur Szyk: Heraldic Artist” (2011)
David F. Phillips

Arthur Szyk’s use of heraldic imagery is a distinctive feature of his work. Like iconography, heraldic art has the power to communicate very specific meanings without words—useful for making a complex visual statement in a limited space. Szyk’s accurate, skillful and creative application of this medieval tradition places him among the most accomplished heraldic artists of the 20th century.

David F. Phillips is a heraldic scholar in San Francisco. He has been studying in this field of art and art history for more than 60 years.

Arthur Szyk's use of heraldic imagery is a distinctive feature of his work. Like iconography, heraldic art has the power to communicate very specific meanings without words - useful for making a complex visual statement in a limited space. Szyk's accurate, skillful and creative application of this medieval tradition places him among the most accomplished heraldic artists of the 20th century.

Art History Publication Series No. 4

“Documents as a Palette of Life: The Genealogical Self-Portrait of Arthur Szyk” (2010)
Rhoda Miller, Ed.D.

Arthur Szyk often painted images of himself into his depictions of Jewish themes and his personal vision of the war-torn world in which he lived. His regular use of self-portraiture demonstrates his emotional involvement in the subjects of his art—images of himself bear witness to the world events and political issues that most compelled him. Szyk’s intense personal connection to the defining events of the first half of the 20th century is evident even in seemingly banal tasks such as filling our regulatory paperwork. The trajectory of Arthur Szyk’s life, when view through such documents, and embellished by the experiences of those who knew him personally, presents a unique self-portrait of the man and the artist.

 

Rhoda Miller, Ed.D. is a Certified Genealogist and Adjunct Associate Professor who teaches genealogy, Holocaust, and education technology courses at Dowling College in addition to her administrative position. She organized an exhibition and gave a presentation regarding Szyk’s genealogical records at Dowling in March 2006 and to the Jewish Genealogical Society in February 2008. Dr. Miller regularly presents at conferences of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies, where this paper was first presented in July 2010. She lectures widely in various genealogical venues. She is President of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island.
Arthur Szyk often painted images of himself into his depictions of Jewish themes and his personal visions of the war-torn world in which he lived. Images of himself bear witness to the world events and political issues that most compelled him, evident even in seemingly banal tasks such as filling out regulatory paperwork. These documents and memories of those who knew Szyk personally reveal a unique self-portrait of the man and the artist.

Art History Publication Series No. 3

“The Civil Rights Art of Arthur Szyk” (2006)
Paul Von Blum

Szyk’s Civil Rights art shows the artist attacking racism on the home front, even while he was fighting Nazism during World War II. Professor Von Blum’s compelling analysis, combined with Szyk’s powerful images, demonstrates the complexity and variety of the artist’s work, as well as his determination to point out racism and inequality wherever he found it.

 

Paul Von Blum has taught at the University of California for 37 years and is currently Senior Lecturer in African American Studies, Communication Studies, and Art History at UCLA. He has received Distinguished Teaching Awards at UC Berkeley and UCLA. He is the author of numerous publications about art, politics, and history. His art historical books are The Art of Social Conscience (1976); The Critical Vision: A History of Social and Political Art in the U.S. (1982); Other Visions, Other Voices: Women Political Artist in Greater Los Angeles (1995); and Resistance, Dignity, and Pride: African American Artists in Los Angeles (2004). He has also published numerous articles, reviews, and catalogue essays. He curated the South African photography exhibition at the California African American Museum in 2004/2005 entitled Deconstructing Apartheid: The Photography of Peter Magubane. He has had a long record of civil rights and political activism, which informs his teaching and research.


Art History Publication Series No. 2

“Democracy’s Weapon: Arthur Szyk in America” (2005)
Harry Katz

Isolated by oceans and sheltered from warfare, no American artist was so utterly prepared as Arthur Szyk to fight the tyranny of hearts and minds he found everywhere in his travels through Europe and even North America, where he dreamed freedom lived. He was democracy’s weapon, a soldier in art, wielding pen and brush to render the face of racial hatred and social injustice, its horrid features intact for all to see.

Independent curator and writer Harry Katz is former Head Curator of prints and photographs at the Library of Congress. His clients include the Washington, D.C. based Herb Block Foundation and the Library of Congress. He created in fall 2000 the Library of Congress exhibition Arthur Szyk: Artist for Freedom, and has produced numerous books and exhibitions devoted to historical and contemporary American graphic art, including Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress and Alfred Knopf, 1998), an American Association of Museums “Book of the Year.” He is the co-author of Humor’s Edge: Cartoons by Ann Telnaes (Pomegranate Press, 2004).

Isolated by oceans and sheltered from warfare, no American artist was so utterly prepared as Arthur Szyk to fight the tyranny of hearts and minds he found everywhere in his travels through Europe and even North America, where he dreamed freedom lived. He was democracy's weapon, a soldier in art, wielding pen and brush to render the face of racial hatred and social injustice, its horrid features intact for all to see.

Art History Publication Series No. 1  

“Calling Out From the Depths: Arthur Szyk’s ‘De profundis’ and Holocaust Protest in the United States” (2004)
Darlene Miller-Lanning, PhD

“De profundis”, Arthur Szyk’s visual interpretation of Psalm 130 (“Out of the depths I have called Thee, O Lord”), is one of the artist’s most dramatic outcries against the mounting toll of the Holocaust. This paper examines the symbolically rich artwork as well as the lack of an expeditious American response to the catastrophe in Europe.

 

Darlene Miller-Laning PhD is the Gallery Director and an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania. An exhibition entitled Arthur Szyk: Manuscript Illuminator, Political Artist, and Advocate for Humanity was held on the University campus from November 1999 to February 2000 and was the inspiration for this paper.

Call for Papers

Call for Papers: One of the goals of The Arthur Szyk Society is to facilitate scholarly research in art history (and other humanities) related to the life and art of Arthur Szyk. To that end, The Society has published five entries in the ongoing Art History Publication Series (see below) and continues to solicit papers for publication on works of art by Arthur Szyk. An honorarium is offered upon the paper’s acceptance.

 

Proposals should include the author’s name, mailing address, phone number, email address, institution (if applicable), a title and one-paragraph summary of the paper, and a 25-word personal biography. Please email proposals to info@szyk.org with the subject line “Art History Proposal.”