Close to Home — Programs for Russian Speakers

Soviet photographers played a pivotal role in the history of photography. Covering the period from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s, this exhibition explores how early modernist photography influenced a new Soviet style and how photography, film, and poster art were later harnessed to disseminate Communist ideology.”

In conjunction with this powerful exhibition, and with generous support from Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Jewish Museum offers programs that “speak” to Russian-speaking visitors, holding two special events in the month of November — a family day, with gallery tours and workshops in English and Russian, and an after-hours evening of music, drinks, and art viewing for young professionals — as well as a Russian language gallery guide of The Power of Pictures.

The exhibition is on view through February 7, 2016. Private group tours of the exhibition may be arranged.

— Veronica Price, guest blogger

The Power of Pictures Family Day 
Sunday, November 15, 12 – 4 pm
Ages 3 & up

Lights, camera, action! Explore the power of the camera to capture the world around us with gallery tours of the exhibition. Design a vibrant poster, pose for a portrait, and rock out with the band Lyagushki performing old Soviet kid’s tunes and American favorites.

Find the full day schedule here.

Invite your friends on Facebook here.

Free with Museum Admission



The Wind-Up: The Power of Pictures
After-Hours Evening of Art-Making, Live Performance, and Gallery Tours
Thursday, November 19, 8 – 11 pm

Experience the innovative film and photography on view in The Power of Pictures. Join us for an evening of music and art, featuring a live performance by the raucous dance band Romashka, fronted by Lithuanian-American singer Inna Barmash, and a set by DJ Spinach, known well for his unique mixture of music from around the world.

Invite your friends on Facebook here.

Tickets: $13 in Advance, $18 At the Door


More Information:

The Power of Pictures Gallery Guide and Film Schedule in English

The Power of Pictures Gallery Guide and Film Schedule in Russian

Schedule a Private Tour

A New Vision of the Soviet Union

Georgy Petrusov, Caricature of Alexander Rodchenko, 1933–34, gelatin silver print. Collection of Alex Lachmann. Artwork © Georgy Petrusov, courtesy of Alex Lachmann Collection


Covering the period from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s, The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film explores how early modernist photography influenced a new Soviet style, and how photography, film, and poster art were harnessed to disseminate Communist ideology. Casey Dalrymple, Marketing Editorial Intern, scoured the recently-opened exhibition that presents “stunning photography from the 1920s and ‘30s” and “films of the era [that] remain a testament to cinema’s radical possibilities” (The Wall Street Journal). Here, Dalrymple relays his experience of the show.

Now on view at the Jewish Museum, The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film presents 180 photographs, films, posters, and periodicals, which generally exemplify the communist agenda — images depicting legions of stalwart soldiers and tanks, and armies of untiring workers and farmers, demonstrating strength and solidarity; a “paradise of perpetual, militant progress” (The New York Times).

Georgy Zelma, Meeting at the Kolkhoz, 1929, gelatin silver print. Collection of Alex Lachmann

But among more straightforward propagandistic photographs are those that, frankly, seem unusual, reflecting a more free-wheeling propaganda machine than perhaps previously imagined. There is, for example, Georgy Petrusov’s Caricature of Alexander Rodchenko (1933 – 1934): Portraying the face of the artist’s friend and colleague exposed on the back of his own bald head, the subject’s disgruntled mug interrogates the viewer in an inversion of the typical proletarian portrait. Where the other subjects in the exhibition confidently gaze upon a bright socialist future, Petrusov’s subject wears a face of skepticism, even disgust, making the viewer wonder whether this image was serving, or challenging, communist ideology. This photograph epitomizes the avant-garde movement that flourished in the midst of the Soviet Union’s march towards conformity and repression under Stalin, capturing the more radical spirit of the revolution — when the Soviet experiment first began.

This spirit exists even within apparently more conventional depictions of workers, farmers, and soldiers. Adhering to the state’s socialist ideal, images such as Georgy Zelma’s Meeting at a Kolkhoz (1929) are, nonetheless, striking and dramatic —  members of a collectivized farm are assailed with blazing sunlight, some bathed in it, some silhouetted, casting all members as heroes. With those glaring sunbeams, one can’t help but think of the dawning of a socialist paradise. In this, the photograph is breathtaking, while still carrying the state’s desire to validate the virtues, even romance, of collectivization.

Alexander Rodchenko, Soviet Photo, no. 10, 1927, Mikhail Koltsov and V. Mikulin, editors. New York Public Library, New York. Artwork © Estate of Alexander Rodchenko (A. Rodchenko and V. Stepanova Archive) / RAO, Moscow / VAGA, New York. Image provided by New York Public Library, Astor, Tilden and Lenox Foundations, Rare Books Division.

This balancing act between aesthetics and ideology is a defining aspect of the exhibition — how the artists on display explored the medium while abiding by the regime’s ideology. This is seen most famously, perhaps, in Alexander Rodchenko’s Mother (1924), an intimate portrayal of the photographer’s formerly illiterate mother reading through a spectacle. Viewers can feel Rodchenko’s warmth toward his subject, with its close-up perspective and tight cropping. But there is more at work in this piece than filial affection. It also advertises for the government’s educational campaigns — a graphic demonstration of the Soviets’ power to enlighten the working people.

The exhibition encourages the viewer to reconsider what is known about the Soviet Union. The firearms and tanks and uniformity are all very well represented — but, within them, and beside them, sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, is the spirit of the idiosyncratic and dramatic. The Power of Pictures bears witness to that spirit of innovation that, in some way, shone through the hedge of communist ideology that encircled the Soviet Union.

For more Soviet photography, both avant-garde and propagandistic, check out The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film on view at the Jewish Museum through February 7, 2016.

— Casey Dalrymple, Marketing Editorial Intern, The Jewish Museum

No, I Don’t Eat Meat!
A Recent Japanese Print Acquisition

Tetsuya Noda, May 15th ’71, from Diary, 1971, woodblock and screenprint on Japanese paper. Purchase: Art Acquisitions Committee Fund


The Jewish Museum recently acquired 10 prints by contemporary Japanese artist and printmaker Tetsuya Noda (b. 1940). Here, Norman Kleeblatt, Susan & Elihu Rose Chief Curator — who organized From the Margins: Lee Krasner | Norman Lewis, 1945–1952, which was named the 2014 Best Thematic Museum Show in New York, 1st Place, by the International Association of Art Critics — discusses how he came across the artist’s work and the development of his personal relationship with the artist.

I first caught a glimpse of Tetsuya Noda’s work in 2013 at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Walking through the Japanese galleries, I spotted a unique print among other contemporary works. The image: a Japanese man wearing a yarmulke, sitting at a desk surrounded by rabbis. Not the expected subject matter explored by a Japanese artist! Although hardly an expert on Asian art, I had, by this time, seen my fair share. And this image was remarkable on many levels — the exquisite technique, unique colors, narrative richness, personal quirkiness, globalized perspective, and portrayal of modern Jewish life.

Flash forward a year: I was putting the finishing touches on From the Margins when I came across an old note in my handwriting: “Print with a man, perhaps Japanese, sitting … with rabbis, yarmulkes, writing.” Lucy Partman, my Curatorial Assistant, quickly contacted the Asian Art Museum to inquire about the print, which we learned is entitled Dairy: May 15th ’71 and was one of several in the collection by Tetsuya Noda, a leading printmaker in Japan. This work, I realized, would make a remarkable addition to the Jewish Museum’s collection. But after hunting for other available impressions, I found that I would have to speak with the artist directly.

Lucy contacted Tim Clark, Director of the Japanese Art Department at the British Museum, who curated a retrospective exhibition of Noda’s work in 2014. Clark put us in touch with Tetsuya and his wife Dorit, with whom Lucy and I communicated over email and skype. Enthusiastic conversations ensued, ranging widely from Tetsuya’s artistic process and techniques, to personal stories and discussions of Yiddish, the carp industry, gefilte fish, and Woody Allen!

Dorit and Tetsuya Noda at the British Museum in 2014. Image provided by the artist

While collecting scholarship on Tetsuya, one catalog was particularly difficult to find. And what luck that his daughter Rika and her fiancé Jason lived down the block from the Jewish Museum, and owned a copy! After delivering the publication, Rika offered further insight into her parents’ devotion to each other and their passion for printmaking.  Of course, we also had to discuss Rika’s forthcoming wedding! At this point, Lucy and I were trying to acquire prints, thinking about how to exhibit them, and weighing in on wedding plans — the full-service curatorial enterprise!

Dairy: May 15th ’71 is from Tetsuya’s Diary series, an ever-expanding opus comprised of over 500 prints produced since the late 1960s, documenting daily life, travel, still lives, and portraits, and finding the extraordinary in the everyday. Dairy: May 15th ’71 depicts a rabbinic study session that took place as Tetsuya was preparing to convert to Judaism. Tetsuya explained,

After I decided to marry an Israeli, Dorit Bartur, I studied about Judaism with a Rabbi at the Jewish Community Center in Tokyo. Among other things I studied about dietary laws or kosher. Therefore I understood that all of the meat we can get in Japan is actually not considered as kosher.

In the print, Tetsuya included the text “No, I don’t eat meat,” a very fortunate response to the rabbis considering the circumstances!

This spring, the Jewish Museum’s board approved the acquisition of 10 prints by Tetsuya Noda related to his conversion to Judaism and family life. I am thrilled to share these works in the context of the collection, as the Museum continues to consider questions of identity, modern perspectives on Judaism and Jewish identity, as well as the globalization and hybridity of religion, culture, and practice.

— Norman Kleeblatt, Susan & Elihu Rose Chief Curator, with sincere thanks to Lucy Partman, Curatorial Assistant