Skip to main content

Ferber, Herbert


FERBER, HERBERT (Silvers ; 1906–1991), U.S. sculptor and painter. A native of New York City, Ferber was born Herbert Ferber Silvers. While studying at the City University of New York and Columbia University, where he received a B.S. (1927) and a D.D.S. (1930), Ferber also took classes at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design (1927–30) and the National Academy of Design (1930).

His early direct carvings in wood from the 1930s employed techniques similar to William *Zorach's and Jo *avidson's. These small figurative sculptures engaged social justice themes, popular with painters such as Raphael *Soyer and Ben *Shahn. The Midtown Galleries mounted Ferber's first solo exhibition in December 1937. In the late 1940s, Ferber eschewed figuration and began welding bronze, lead, copper, and brass as he developed his mature open-form abstract style of sculpture. Akin to Abstract Expressionist painters, Ferber derived inspiration from Surrealist imagery and ancient myth.

Ferber's work was commissioned by B'nai Israel Synagogue, Millburn, New Jersey (1951); Temple Anshe Chesed, Cleveland, Ohio (1956); and Temple of Aaron, St. Paul, Minnesota (1956). An eight by twelve foot abstractly rendered burning bush made of jagged lead-coated copper adorns a wedge-shaped panel projecting from the facade of the B'nai Israel congregation. Titled And the Bush Was Not Consumed, this symbolic representation evokes the impression of flames through an open biomorphic style that incorporates snaking vertical and spiral forms. Ferber's textured sculpture identifies the building and serves as a metaphor for the Jewish people. Indeed, the rabbi of the congregation felt that like the Jewish people, the bush was burned but not consumed. This commission was the impetus for several other sculptures designed specifically for walls.

During the 1960s Ferber began a series titled Homage to Piranesi in which he enclosed rhythmic forms in wire cages. In March 1961 Ferber's Sculpture as Environment was installed in a room at the Whitney Museum of American Art. One of the first sculptures designed to encompass indoor space on a large scale, the work helped to stimulate a larger movement of installation art in the early 1970s. A year later Ferber's first major retrospective was shown at the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis. Houston's Museum of Fine Arts held a retrospective in 1981.

Lesser known are Ferber's canvases and works on paper. These abstract images typically show the influence of color field painting, as exemplified by Marc *Rothko and Barnett *Newman.


E.C. Goossen, R. Goldwater, and I. Sandler, Three American Sculptors: Ferber, Hare, and Lassaw (1959); A. Kampf, Contemporary Synagogue Art: Developments in the United States, 19451965 (1966), 75–79; E.C. Goossen, Herbert Ferber (1981); W.C. Agee, Herbert Ferber: Sculpture, Painting, Drawing: 19451980 (1983); L. Verderame, The Founder of Sculpture as Environment: Herbert Ferber (19061991) (1998).

[Samantha Baskind (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ferber, Herbert." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 24 Sep. 2018 <>.

"Ferber, Herbert." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (September 24, 2018).

"Ferber, Herbert." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.