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Art Influenced by the Holocaust Whether there exists a form of art that can be described as "Jewish Art" has long been a matter for discussion.What is indisputable is that at every stage of their history the Jews and their ancestors of biblical times expressed themselves in various art forms which inevitably reflect contemporary styles and fashions and the environment in which they lived.
In the later biblical period and throughout classical antiquity, in an environment in which the worship of images by their neighbors played a great part, the Jews reacted strongly against this practice and up to a point representational art was sternly suppressed.
In the Mesolithic period the inhabitants of the region that is now Wadi Natuf in Western Judea produced some carvings which, while intended for ritual purposes, show a love of full forms and beautiful shapes, a purity of line and balance of masses, which characterize naturalistic art at its best.
The Jericho culture of the eighth to fifth millennia has a fresh aesthetic approach, and the clay masks found there, perhaps connected with ancestor worship, are among the chief works of ancient art in the Middle East.
For purposes of cult and of religious observance, as well as for household and personal adornment, Jews have constantly produced or made use of objects which appealed in some fashion to their aesthetic sense. 133b), the rabbis, commenting on Exodus 15:2, prescribed that God should be "adorned" by the use of beautiful implements for the performance of religious observances. 5:8 and in great detail –18) ostensibly prohibits, in the sternest terms, the making of any image or likeness of man or beast.
A problem exists, however, regarding the Jewish attitude toward figurative and representational art. In the context, this presumably implies a prohibition of such manufacture for the purposes of worship.
But it is not easy to explain the sudden emergence in recent generations of a flood of artists of outstanding genius, largely of Eastern European origin, in France, the United States, and elsewhere.
Until the 19 It is known that there was a relatively high development of art in Ereẓ Israel even before the coming of the Hebrews.The same applied to a certain degree in the environment of Roman and Greek Catholicism in the Middle Ages.On the other hand, when the Jews were to some extent culturally assimilated, they began to share in the artistic outlook of their neighbors and the prejudice against representational art dwindled, and in the end almost disappeared.These enigmatic figures, also a feature of the First Temple until its destruction, were the outstanding exception which proved that the ancient Hebrews did not absolutely shun figurative and plastic art.In addition to these and similar decorative cherubim, the great laver in Solomon's Temple, called the "molten sea," was supported on the backs of twelve oxen cast in bronze, a construction to which at some later age there were objections.The Canaanite period which immediately preceded the Israelite conquest produced some significant religious art.