Avi Biran - Judaica, Design & Fine Art
Judaica, Design & Fine Art

"Dialogue with Time"

Liturgical objects from the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague and contemporary works of the Israeli designer Avi Biran

May 17, 2001 - October 26, 2001

Jewish Museum in Prague, Spanish Synagogue, Vezenska 1, Prague 1

9am - 6pm, except Saturdays and Jewish holidays

Curator Mgr. Jaroslav Kuntos

Avi Biran's Torah Finials, Israel 1996
In dialogue with the Torah Finials from the Jewish Museum in Prague, Vienna, 1865, Maker:AW

Avi Biran's Flower Spice Box design 1998

In dialogue with the Flower Spice Box from the Jewish Museum in Prague, inv. no. 12.747 silver, Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), around 1800, maker unknown, height 182 mm

© Avi Biran and the Jewish Museum of Prague

"The production of Jewish liturgical objects seldom finds itself at the forefront of interest in the Czech Republic where it is generally regarded as a closed chapter. In view of tragic historical events there were no new liturgical objects produced after the Second World War; the few surviving Jewish communities made use of liturgical objects that in many cases were hundreds of years old. The exhibition of objects by Avi Biran, complemented by their historical counterparts from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, demonstrates that such objects are made in the present and that these are no mere reproductions of earlier models. As in the past, the inspiration is still drawn from traditional literary and artistic sources. When developing these sources, Avi Biran is not constrained by the original subject matter; on the contrary, he likes to explore unexpected connections whose basic qualities can be appreciated even by the layman. In certain cases, however different levels of meaning, an understanding of which requires specialist knowledge of Judaism, characterize his artifacts. A common feature of all Avi Biran's work is his inventiveness and humor, which are used as a way of getting the viewer to think about his work and to try and find out what the original source of inspiration was and how it has been adapted. Although his artifacts may surprise viewers who are familiar with their historical counterparts, on closer inspection one can see that they are all based on deep historical traditions and meet all the requirements for use as liturgical objects. Historical counterparts from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague have been selected with a view to their similarity in shape and function, regardless of their age and their artistic and historical significance. The majority of these objects are being displayed for the first time in this exhibition."

Jaroslav Kuntos, Curator

Avi Biran's Charity box, Israel 1992

In dialogue with the Synagogue Charity Box from the Jewish Museum in Prague, Bohemia, 19th century

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Avi Biran's Hanukah Lamp, Israel, 1991
In dialogue with the Hanukah Lamp from the Jewish Museum in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1929-1939, Sandrik company

The Spanish Synagogue was built in 1868 on the site of the oldest Prague Jewish house of prayer ("the Old School") in a Moorish style to a design by Vojtech Ignatz Ullmann and Josef Niklas. The synagogue has a square ground-plan with a copula above the central area. The gallery is built on an iron structure. The stucco arabesque and stylised oriental motifs of the interior are also applied on the walls and in the adornment of the doors, balustrades and gallery. The coloured window panes and interior decoration were designed by architects A. Baum and B. Muenzberger and completed in 1893. The Jewish Museum in Prague has therefore completed one of its most ambitious projects - to reopen after over 20 years the Spanish Synagogue to the public on the 130th anniversary of its founding.

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