An open Torah scroll, from which Hebrew characters are flying off from and turning into the English Alphabet and landing on to an open book. The text below it states: "The Torah is a living document and must be reinterpreted to each generation it its own idiom, in the language and culture of the time."
Artwork by Mark Podwal, 1981. Rose Family Seder Book, Volume 2, Dorot Jewish Division.

The Rose Family Seder Books are unique collections of Passover-themed artwork. For over 60 years, the Rose family has commissioned artwork from some of the most prominent American artists to create these seder books as part of a family tradition around Passover—the annual Jewish holiday celebrating the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt. Thanks to the Rose family’s continuing generosity, the books are now part of the Library’s Dorot Jewish Division.

Artists and approaches represented in this decades-long collaboration range from New York social realist Jack Levine to New York Review of Books caricaturist David Levine and include some of the most prominent American artists of the 20th century. Many of the contributors were Jewish, often from New York. Some, including Saul Raskin, Leonard Baskin, and Larry Rivers, were already famous for treating Jewish themes; others, such as Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser, were not. Other notable contributors include the Spanish-American Expressionist Federico Castellón and the Israeli Social Realist Naftali Bezem. Materials and techniques employed in these volumes range from a stained-glass window design executed in mylar to several pages of Frank Stella’s sculptural paper puzzle constructions.

This year's display features illustrations by Mark Podwal (b. 1945) and Laurent de Brunhoff (b. 1925). Podwal is a contemporary American artist based in New York City. He is well known for his visually striking and unique interpretations of traditional Jewish texts and legends. Paris-born author and illustrator Laurent de Brunhoff is the son of artist Jean de Brunhoff, who created the book Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant (1931), which was an instant hit and a bestseller. Laurent, who inherited his father’s artistic gift, wrote and illustrated numerous books about Babar and his kingdom that inspired several films, television series, and video games. His elephant characters have been celebrated and beloved by many generations of children from around the world.

More Exhibitions

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    March 15–July 13, 2024
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

    Discover how the Arctic has been a source of intrigue and fascination for centuries through historic and contemporary images.