The Synagogue Folio
This page is dedicated to the folios/books created by Jacob Mącznik
during or related to a journey made in 1937 by Mącznik and his close friend Hersh
Fenster. Their plan was for Mącznik to paint, and for Fenster to write.
The two intended to record some of the more impressive or important synagogues
of eastern Europe before their destiny of destruction by the Nazis came to pass.
The trip is documented in multiple newspapers as well as in
the chapters regarding Mącznik in the books of Fenster and of Aronson
which you may read in any of six languages (Yiddish, French, English,
German, Polish and Hebrew) at the Literature page of this site.
Here is a photo of them while on that very journey:
Mącznik, left, and Fenster, right. Sandomierz, Poland, 1937
(photo courtesy Musée d'Art et Histoire du Judaïsme (Paris))
Without even thinking of their mission in such explicit terms,
this was an important example of resistance and of resistance art(s).
The synagogue writings of Fenster have sadly never been found, but two
originals of the Mącznik folio/book are known to exist. One is
in private hands, possessed by a wealthy individual who, to date (2020),
has sadly displayed no interest in having it be widely seen by the public
nor by art historians, despite many years of earnest, heartfelt entreaties (and offers
to buy). The other is possessed by The Jewish Museum (New York City), although
provenance and proper ownership have been legally challenged with the State of New York,
and remain challenged to this day. Sadly, the Museum has almost never had it on display;
rather, it has been relegated to storage. The folio/book contains eight original
paintings done in watercolor/gouache.
The preface was written by Anatole de Monzie. If interested, here are links to Wikipedia pages about him:
English Wikipedia de Monzie page
French Wikipedia de Monzie page
Here are links to images of the eight paintings in the folio/book:
Isaac Synagogue (Kraków)
Small building alongside the Old Synagogue (Kraków)
Gombin / Gabin / Gąbin Synagogue
Great Synagogue (Rzeszów)
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