RASKIN, SAUL (1878–1966), illustrator, painter, printmaker, critic. Born in Nogaisk, Russia, Raskin studied lithography in Odessa, and attended art academies in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy. In 1904, he emigrated to the U.S. He worked in many media and garnered a reputation for his draftsmanlike attention to detail and his realistic approach. His imagery depicted scenes of Jewish life, especially that of New York's Lower East Side. His trips to Palestine yielded many representations of that country's Jewish population, among them twenty lithographs of Jerusalem. Raskin also illustrated many Hebrew texts, including Pirke Aboth (1940), the Haggadah (1941), Psalms (1942), the Siddur (1945), Kabbalah in Word and Image (1952), and other works with Jewish content, such as Hebrew Rhapsody (1959). Pirke Aboth demonstrates Raskin's wonderful sense of design; he makes dramatic use of blank space as a component of his compositions as well as underscores the meaning of each of the book's sections with a powerful combination of human and fantastic forms, each revealing carefully rendered details of expression. Raskin was the art and theater critic for the Yiddish weekly magazine Does Neie Land. In 1911, Raskin's "The Future of Jewish Art," appeared in the magazine. In the article, Raskin bemoans the inability to find common Jewish attributes in the works of such artists as Antokolsky, Israels, Liebermann, and Pissarro. Raskin postulated that a Jewish Art (sic) might emerge through the identification of common themes and subjects in the work of his contemporaries, specifically in genre and history paintings, rather than through an examination of the widely varied techniques, forms, and styles used by artists of Jewish heritage. Raskin's work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Academy of Design, and the Pennsylvania Academy. His work has been collected by many major museums and galleries, including the Brooklyn Museum.
A. Kampf, Jewish Experience in the Art of the Twentieth Century (1984); S. Raskin, Pirke Aboth in Etchings (1969).
[Nancy Buchwald (2nd ed.)]