Zionism Considered Too Controversial for San Francisco Art Scene


“We can say anything we want about ourselves, but we cannot say we’re Zionists. I’m sick of this.”—Alan Kaufman, Israeli-American Artist

I intended on commenting on this story from The New York Sun a couple of weeks ago. In a nutshell, Israeli-American painter and author Alan Kaufman contends that a San Francisco gallery displaying his work “dropped plans to publish a catalog…after he proposed that the cover title of the collection refer to Zionism.” Call it a hunch but I suspect if the title had been negative, “Victims of Zionism” or something along those lines, they would have had no problem publishing the catalog. But heaven forbid an artist express ideological affinity for the dreaded Z-word:

Painter Presses His Cause on Canvas


Mr. Kaufman said the disagreement erupted on October 8 at a meeting with Mr. Himmelberger to discuss the layout and contents of the 24-page catalog. “He had a printout of the catalog with ‘Visionary Expressionism: A Zionist Art’ in front of him. He pointed to the word, ‘Zionism,’ and said, ‘I can’t do that,” Mr. Kaufman told The New York Sun. “I said, ‘What exactly is the problem? You know what my paintings are about.'”

“He said, ‘I don’t stand for that. … We don’t want to advocate any kind of platform here,'” Mr. Kaufman said. The artist said it was not the content of his art, but the labeling of it as Zionist that seemed to be the sticking point. “None of the paintings at the gallery have the actual word ‘Zionism’ in it. I think it was the appearance of the actual word Zionism in the title and all the essays that shocked him. He gave me the impression that, ‘Oh my God, we have a Zionist in the house.'”

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Read more at Solomonia and Seraphic Secret.

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