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New Israeli Exhibit Centers on Jesus

Christ preaching at Capernaum portion of Christ preaching at Capernaum by Maurycy Gottlieb (public domain)

A new exhibit at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is taking a close-up look at a key figure in the city’s history: Jesus.

The museum’s exhibition, “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art,” looks at how prominent artists working from the second half of the 19th century until today depict Jesus. The works showcase the evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward a figure whose place in Jewish history has been negotiated and reinterpreted over more than two millennia.

There are 150 works by 40 artists, including Reuven Rubin, Marc Chagall and Sigalit Landau. They come from the museum’s collections and from private and public collections in Israel and abroad, including the National Museum in Warsaw and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

According to the Israel Museum’s director, James S. Snyder, the exhibition extends his institution’s “ongoing commitment to Israeli art and puts forth critical scholarship that provides insight into the Jewish people’s complex and multi-dimensional relationship with the subject of Jesus.” He added: “Demonstrating the fundamental power of visual expression, these works transcend time, place, culture and even religion, revealing the universal impulse to define one’s own identity by appropriating symbols from collective world history.”

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