Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the November 14,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Jacob Landau, Anger & Love
If in my work I seem to stress the tragic, it is
of a felt need to counter the fake cheerfulness of our culture, its
smiles, Max-Factored out of all resemblance to the human," says
Jacob Landau. His current exhibit, "Unlimited Possibilities: Jacob
Landau Works on Paper, 1950 to 2000," is at the Princeton
Seminary’s Erdman Hall Gallery on Library Place, until December 7.
"Bertold Brecht said, `The man who laughs has not yet been told
the terrible news,’" Landau continues. "Do I batten on
Do I relish tragedy? I am sure that I do, to a degree. I contain both
victim and executioner, life-wish and death-wish. I contain the joy
of forming and the pain of awareness. I contain the beauty of growing
up, the mystery of patterned energy, and the sadness of growing old.
I contain certainty of its dissipation. I contain anger and love about
the present, anxiety and hope for the future."
Born in Philadelphia, Landau is an internationally-known illustrator,
printmaker, painter, and stained glass designer, and resident of
New Jersey, since the 1950s. At 83, he is a professor emeritus of
New York’s Pratt Institute; his work can be found in the collections
of the Whitney Museum, New York, the Hirschhorn Collection,
D.C., the New Jersey State Museum, and many others.
The current show comprises more than two dozen works in watercolor,
pen and ink, lithograph, and woodcut, including studies for his work
in stained glass that has become so important in recent years. Perhaps
the show’s signature work is the watercolor "I Hurt, Therefore
I Am," a figurative watercolor made last year which carries its
title in block letters across the upper part of the paper. As a Jew
who watched the Holocaust unfold inexorably during his lifetime, one
senses that Landau’s figure, arm raised in a fist, is facing the
of living (and dying) in a spirit of both determination and
Most impressive and illustrative of Landau’s enormous talent are two
monochrome lithographs from the "Dante Cycle" (1975-77),
both of Dante’s vision and Landau’s own commentaries on the hells
of consciousness and civilization. Technically resembling pencil
more than prints, Landau used mylar instead of stone or metal as his
drawing surface, and light instead of acid to transfer and fix the
image onto an aluminum printing plate.
"My art tradition is the German, not the French," says Landau.
"My idea tradition is the ancient Hebrew involvement with prophecy
and protest. I see the human body as paradigmatic — all that we
call universe is contained in its form. Drawing and color are the
twin fundamentals of my style. I seek whole-person, whole cosmos
but often succumb to my obsessions. For me, art is more than formal
exploration or exploitation. Without it, we are an endangered and
— Nicole Plett
Hall Gallery, 20 Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Unlimited
Jacob Landau Works on Paper, 1950 to 2000," on view to December
7. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
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