A set of limited-edition lithographs by Spanish realist Salvador Dali will be exhibited at the Marcus Hillel Center at Emory University from its March 17 opening through June.
Entitled “Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel,” the little-known suite portraying the epic history of the Jewish diaspora and the return to the homeland was a gift to Emory professor David Blumenthal from his wife, Ursula, commemorating their first date.
On that date in 1965, the couple went to see an exhibit of Dali’s paintings at the Huntington Hartford Museum in New York.
Blumenthal, the Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies in Emory’s Department of Religion, also curated the “Aliyah” exhibit.
The original “Aliyah” works took two years for Dali to complete, and were commissioned by Shorewood Publishers, a New York firm noted for art publications.
After its grand opening at the Huntington Hartford Museum’s Gallery of Modern Art in New York on April 1, 1968, 250 sets of 25 lithographs each were produced and then the stones were destroyed, ensuring that there would be no more reprints; the Blumenthal’s (No. 150) is the only known set in Atlanta.
For the Hillel exhibit, Blumenthal has organized the lithographs—all of which are signed and many of them dated—historically and thematically. A favorite section is the four iconic images of exile and hope: “A Voice is heard in Ramah,” “The Wailing Wall,” “For it is thy life and the length of thy days” and “Return, O virgin of Israel.”
“The Hebrew word ‘aliyah’ means ‘ascent.’ In later Hebrew, it was broadened to mean ‘to ascend to the land of Israel,’ ” says David Blumenthal. “After centuries of oppression in the exile, ‘aliyah’ is a commitment to the rebirth of the Jewish people, to the renaissance of the Jewish spirit, in its own space.”
The set of 25 colored prints was kept in its original box and stored safely under the couple’s piano for nearly 30 years, until Ursula Blumenthal had the idea of displaying the series in honor of Emory’s new Marcus Hillel Center, which opened last September.
“I am so glad it’s here where it can be seen and appreciated,” she says.
The exhibit is sponsored in part by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, Emory University Office of the President, the Emory Center for Creativity and the Arts’ David Goldwasser Series in Religion and the Arts, the Blonder Family Foundation, Shirley Blaine, the Cohen Chair of Judaic Studies, and the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies.
An audio tour, narrated by Blumenthal, is available for free download via iTunes U on iPod Touch or iPhone. Visitors can check out iPods at the Marcus Hillel Center reception desk.
For more information visit Hillel at Emory.
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