20. February 29 – April 29, 2005 (Two concurrent exhibitions)
B. EPHRAIM MOSES LILIEN: PRINTMAKER
Ephraim Moses Lilien was born on May 23, 1874 in Drohobycz in Galicia, Austria, where he spent his childhood. His homeland has been characterized as, “ a poor and pathetic land with gray, cold rocks.” Lilien’s father was a master wood-turner. With evident artistic ability he was apprenticed at an early age to a sign painter. At age 16 he went to Cracow to study art but was forced to leave school because his father could not afford to pay the tuition.
After further studies in Vienna, again ended because of financial hardship, Lilien spent time in Munich where he began to build his reputation as an artist. He came to Berlin in 1899 where he joined the group of artists, named “die Kommenden” (The Coming Ones), most of whom where Zionists and whose influence proved life changing for Lilien.
In 1900, the book "Judah", by Borries Freiherr von Munchausen, with illustrations by Ephraim Moses Lilien was published, a consciously Zionist book, in which the century-long oppression of the Jews is clearly documented. Both his innovations in book design and his ability to synthesize a visual conception of Zionism placed Lilien as an innovator and leader of his genre. The book was so successful that Lilien was called, “the bearer of a new Jewish cultural consciousness.”
In 1902 Lilien’s earlier success was surpassed with the publishing of the illustrated “Songs of the Ghetto” by Morris Rosenfeld. His drawings for that book were concerned with nothing less than the self-liberation of Jewish culture.
Lilien attended the Zionist Congress in 1901 in Basel and joined the Democratic-Zionist fraction. Lilien embodied the soul of the artistic movement within Zionism with a style that fused Art Nouveau, or Jugenstil, and Jewish imagery.
Along with Boris Schatz he attempted to start the Bezalel School in Jerusalem. His involvement with the school lasted only a short time. He directed the “Painting and Colours” department for five months and also taught “Black and White Drawing.” In 1906 he married Helene Magnus. From 1912 to 1915, Lilien created his magnificent illustrations for 'die Bücher der Bibel'. His first large exhibition in New York took place in 1923.
He made three trips to Palestine during which he sketched and photographed extensively. In this exhibition were works that resulted from those travels.