In 2017, The Magnes acquired from Irvin Ungar, a private collector, the most significant collection of works by Arthur Szyk (Łódź, Poland, 1894 – New Canaan, Connecticut, 1951) thanks to an unprecedented gift from Taube Philanthropies. Szyk’s works are now available to the world in a public institution for the first time as the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection.
Irvin Ungar is the author of many publications on the work of Arthur Szyk, and most recently of Arthur Szyk, Soldier in Art (Giles, 2017), the winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Visual Arts. This publication includes original essays by Michael Berenbaum, Tom L. Freudenheim, James Kettlewell, and Irvin Ungar. Arthur Szyk, Soldier in Art celebrates the diverse aspects of Szyk's career and examines his highly detailed artwork. The volume includes over 200 full-color plates of key works by Szyk arranged by theme, a timeline of Szyk's life, an extensive list of major exhibitions at museums and galleries, a complete bibliography of his illustrated books, and photographs of the artist.
The presentation will take place in the Auditorium of The Magnes, where high-resolution images of select collection items present the public with an unprecedented insight in the many worlds of Arthur Szyk.
Irvin Ungar, a former pulpit rabbi and antiquarian bookseller, has devoted the past quarter-century to scholarship on Arthur Szyk. He has curated and consulted for numerous Szyk exhibitions, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Deutsches Historisches Museum (Berlin), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Library of Congress, and the New-York Historical Society. Ungar is the author of Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art, co-producer of the documentary film, Soldier in Art: Arthur Szyk, and the creator and publisher of the luxury limited edition of The Szyk Haggadah. He has also served as the curator of the former Arthur Szyk Society in Burlingame, California.
Shana Penn is the Executive Director of Taube Philanthropies, in San Francisco, and a visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union’s Center for Jewish Studies, in Berkeley. At Taube Philanthropies, she developed and continues to oversee the Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland. Her book, Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (University of Michigan Press, 2005) was awarded Best Book in Slavic and East European Women’s Studies by the American Association of Women in Slavic Studies. It was published as Sekret Solidarnośći by W.A.B. Publishers (Warsaw) in 2014. In 2013, Shana was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for both her gender studies research and advocacy of Polish-Jewish relations.