Barasch, Moshe

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BARASCH, MOSHE (1920–2004), Israeli art scholar. Barasch can be considered the father of art history in Israel, a fact acknowledged by the State in 1996 when it awarded him the first Israel Prize in art history. Born in Czernowitz, he was a child prodigy as a painter and writer. He had his first exhibition of Expressionist paintings in 1933, and in 1935 published his first book, Die Glaubens schwere Wege, stating his belief in Judaism and Zionism. During World War ii, he joined the Romanian Resistance and later enlisted in the Red Army to fight the Nazis, as well as the Haganah's *Beriḥah organization. Arriving in Israel in 1948, he fought in the War of Independence and published in Abysmal Reflections (1948) drawings reflecting his reactions to World War ii. In 1956 he began teaching art history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in 1965 inaugurated there a Department of Art History, the first in Israel. He believed that one should be able to teach all periods of art and stressed the importance of a broad knowledge of philosophy and culture in understanding art. He began to publish books on the Renaissance and Crusader Art, and later broadened his scope to include studies on the depiction of God, the iconography of gestures and facial expressions, aesthetics and the theory of color in Renaissance art, the ways that art communicates with the spectator, and the way the mental concept of blindness is imaged in art.

His published works on art history include Michelangelo (1961); The Image of Man in the History of Art (1967); Introduction to Renaissance Art (1968); Crusader Figural Sculpture in the Holy Land (1971); Gestures of Despair in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art (1976); Approaches to Art 17501950 (1977); Light and Color in the Italian Renaissance Theory of Art (1978); Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea (1981); Theories of Art: from Plato to Winckelmann (1985); Giotto and the Language of Gesture (1987); Modern Theories of Art, vol. 1 (1990), vol. 2 (1998); Imago Hominis: Studies in the Language of Art (1991); The Language of Art: Studies in Interpretation (1997); Das Gottesbild: Studien zur Darstellung des Unsichtbaren (1998); Blindness: The History of a Mental Image in Western Thought (2001).


M. Ebner, "Introduction to Moses Barasch," in: Des Glaubens schwere Wege (1935), 5–8; J. Assmann, Introduction to Representation in Religion: Studies in Honor of Moshe Barasch, J. Assmann and A.I. Baumgarten (eds.) (2001); Z. Amishai-Maisels, "Moshe Barasch (1920–2004)," in: Ars Judaica, 1 (2005), 156–58.

[Ziva Amishai-Maisels (2nd ed.)]