Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. In 1945 he entered the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) where he majored in pictorial design. Upon graduation, Warhol moved to New York where he found steady work as a commercial artist. He worked as an illustrator for several magazines including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker and did advertising and window displays for retail stores such as Bonwit Teller and I. Miller. Prophetically, his first assignment was for Glamour magazine for an article titled "Success is a Job in New York."

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Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century

17 SEPTEMBER 2008 - 11 OCTOBER 2008

Coskun
91-93 Walton Street
London SW3 2HP
T: +44 (0)20 7581 9056

 

Andy Warhol, Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century, 1980

Coskun confirms its position as Europe’s leading Warhol specialist with the exhibition ‘Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century’ in its London gallery. The show will run between 17 September and 11 October 2008.

With his portraits Warhol continues his success in almost single handedly resurrecting grand style portraiture.   While normally he depicted people important, glamorous, notorious or rich enough to warrant leaving their human traces in the grand history of painting this time he portrays a pantheon of great thinkers, politicians, performers, musicians and writers.    Warhol's great sequence of portraits of 'Jewish geniuses' was originally shown at The Jewish Museum, New York in 1980. Arching across the century, the breadth of achievement represented by these figures is formidable. Indeed, the selection seems calculated to touch every aspect of human experience. The line-up comprised: Sarah Bernhardt, the celebrated French stage actress; Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States; Martin Buber the renowned philosopher, story-teller and pedagogue; Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century; Sigmund Freud the hugely influential founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology; the Marx Brothers, celebrated comedians of vaudeville, stage and cinema; Golda Meir, one of the founders of the State of Israel; George Gershwin, the distinguished American composer; Franz Kafka, the major German writer, and Gertrude Stein, the important American novelist. A sustained process of research and discussion resulted in the selection of a group of Jewish figures representing great achievement in the arts, sciences, philosophy, law, and politics.

Unlike many of Warhol’s portraits, Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century depicts subjects whom the artist never met. Warhol was evasive when asked to divulge his selection criteria for the series and once told a reporter that he chose these ten subjects “because I liked the faces.” The idea for Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century originated with Ronald Feldman, a New York gallerist, who commissioned it with Israeli art dealer Alexander Harari.  

Warhol’s portraits, typically produced in multiple, defy customary expectations for a unique or psychologically revealing view of the individual. By openly embracing commercialism and the trappings of fame, and by employing photography and silk-screening, he challenged modernist concepts of originality and self-expression.

Biographies

Franz Kafka 1883 – 1924

Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 in Prague, Austria-Hungary - June 3, 1924 in Vienna, Austria) was one of the major German language writers of the 20th century most of whose work was published posthumously. His unique body of writing continues to challenge critics, and attempts to classify his work are generally inadequate. Kafka was born on July 3, 1883, into a middle class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, in the Bohemian Kingdom – a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  His father was the dry goods (Galanteriewaren) merchant Hermann Kafka (1852-1931) and his mother was Julie Kafka, nee Löwy (1856-1934). Although his native language was German, he also learned Czech as a child, since his father came into Prague from south Bohemian Czech-speaking Jewish community ("kafka" means "jackdaw" in Czech) and he wanted his son to be fluent in both languages. He also had some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was Flaubert and he had a sentimental affinity for Napoleon. He had two brothers, Georg and Heinrich, neither of whom lived two full years and died before Kafka was six, and three sisters, Elli, Valli and Ottla. From 1889 to 1893, Kafka attended the elementary school (Deutsche Knabenschule) at Masná St. (Fleischmarkt) in Prague and then the high school at Staroměstské náměstí (located in Kinsky Palace) where he finished his Matura exam in 1901. He went on to study law in the University of Prague, and obtained his law degree in 1906, then worked for a worker's accident insurance agency. He began writing on the side. In 1917 he began to suffer from tuberculosis, which would require frequent convalescence during which he was supported by his family, most notably his sister Ottla, with whom he had much in common.

The asceticism and self-depreciation with which Kafka is associated is well-documented in the letters of his and of his friends and family; however, it does need to be put into context. Chronic sickness—whether it was psychosomatic is a matter for debate—plagued him; aside from tuberculosis, he suffered from migraines, insomnia, constipation, boils, and other ailments. He attempted to counteract this by a regimen of naturopathic treatments, such as a vegetarian diet and consumption of large quantities of unpasteurized milk (the latter possibly the causal factor of his tuberculosis). Most likely today he would have been diagnosed as clinically depressed, but because of this his self-critical attitudes are severely exaggerated. While at school, he took an active role in organizing literary and social events, he did much to promote and organize performances for Yiddish theatre, despite the misgivings of even his closest friends such as Max Brod, who usually supported him in everything else, and quite contrary to his fear of being perceived as both physically and mentally repulsive, impressed others with his boyish, neat, and austere good looks, his quiet and cool demeanor, and his intelligence and odd sense of humour. Kafka's relationship with his domineering father is an important theme in his writing. In the early 1920s he had an influential love affair with Czech journalist and writer Milena Jesenská. In 1923 he briefly moved to Berlin in the hope of distancing himself from his family's influence to concentrate on his writing. His tuberculosis worsened; he returned to Prague, then went to a sanatorium near Vienna for treatment, where he died on June 3, 1924, apparently from starvation (Kafka's condition made it too painful on his throat to eat, and since intravenous therapy had not been developed, there was no way to feed him). His body was brought back to Prague where he was buried June 11, 1924 in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague-Zizkov. Kafka published only a few short stories during his lifetime, a small part of his work, and consequently his writing attracted little attention until after his death. Prior to his death, he instructed his friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy all of his manuscripts. His lover Dora Dymant faithfully destroyed the manuscripts that she had, but Brod did not follow Kafka's instructions and oversaw the publication of most of his work, which soon began to attract attention and critical regard. All his published works, except several Czech letters to Milena Jesenska, were written in German. There have been many critics who have tried to make sense of Kafka’s works by interpreting them through certain schools of literary criticism – as modernist, magical realist, and so on. The apparent hopelessness and the absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism. Others have tried to locate Marxist influence in his satirization of bureaucracy in pieces such as In the Penal Colony, The Trial, and The Castle. Still others have interpreted his works through the lens of Judaism (because he was Jewish and had an interest in Jewish culture, though he only cultivated it late in life)—Borges made a few perceptive remarks in this regard; through Freudianism (because of his familial struggles); or as allegories of a metaphysical quest for God (Thomas Mann was a proponent of this theory). Themes of alienation and persecution are repeatedly emphasized, and this emphasis—notably in the work of Marthe Robert—partly inspired the counter-criticism of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who argued that there was much more to Kafka than the stereotype of a lonely figure writing out of anguish, and that his work was more deliberate, subversive and yet “joyful” than it appears to be.

 

Gertrude Stein 1874-1946

Avant-garde American writer, eccentric, and self-styled genius, whose Paris home was a salon for the leading artists and writers of the period between World Wars I and II.

Stein spent her infancy in Vienna and Paris and her girlhood in Oakland, Calif. At Radcliffe College she studied psychology with the philosopher William James. After further study at Johns Hopkins medical school she went to Paris, where she was able to live by private means. From 1903 to 1912 she lived with her brother Leo, who became an accomplished art critic; thereafter she lived with her lifelong companion Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967).

Stein and her brother were among the first collectors of works by the Cubists and other experimental painters of the period, such as Pablo Picasso (who painted her portrait), Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque, several of whom became her friends. At her salon they mingled with expatriate American writers, such as Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway, and other visitors drawn by her literary reputation. Her literary and artistic judgments were revered, and her chance remarks could make or destroy reputations. In her own work, she attempted to parallel the theories of Cubism, specifically in her concentration on the illumination of the present moment and her use of slightly varied repetitions and extreme simplification and fragmentation. The best explanation of her theory of writing is found in the essay Composition and Explanation, which is based on lectures that she gave at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and was issued as a book in 1926. Among her work that was most thoroughly influenced by Cubism is Tender Buttons (1914), which carries fragmentation and abstraction beyond the borders of intelligibility.

Her first published book, Three Lives (1909), the stories of three working-class women, has been called a minor masterpiece. The Making of Americans, a long composition written in 1906-08 but not published until 1925, was too convoluted and obscure for general readers, for whom she remained essentially the author of such lines as "A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Her only book to reach a wide public was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), actually Stein's own autobiography. The performance in the United States of her Four Saints in Three Acts (1934), which the composer Virgil Thomson had made into an opera, led to a triumphal American lecture tour in 1934-35. Thomson also wrote the music for her second opera, The Mother of Us All (published 1947), based on the life of feminist Susan B. Anthony.

Politically, Gertrude Stein has been described as a conservative fascist; she regarded the jobless as lazy , opposed Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal and supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War. She would later start a project of translating speeches by Vichy regime leader Pétain into English. Contrastingly, Judy Grahn (1989) describes her as, "a 19th Century Republican, in her manners and manner of speech she was Victorian, socially was more liberal than not, with developed individualism coupled with democratic values based in pragmatism; thus at the opening of the German occupation of France she favored collaborative Vichy government, but by the end she did not, having witnessed firsthand the hardship it brought to the peasants." With the outbreak of World War II, Stein and Toklas moved to a rented country home in Bilignin, Ain, in the Rhône-Alpes region. Referred to only as "Americans" by their neighbors, the Jewish Gertrude and Alice escaped persecution probably because of their friendship to Bernard Faÿ, a gay collaborator with the Vichy regime with connections to the Gestapo. When Bernard Faÿ was sentenced to hard labor for life after the war, Gertrude and Alice campaigned for his release. Several years later, Alice would contribute money to Faÿ's escape from prison.

After the war, Gertrude's status in Paris grew when she was visited by many young American soldiers. She died of stomach cancer in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris on July 29, 1946 and was interred there in the Pere Lachaise cemetry.

Martin Buber 1878-1965

Martin Buber was a renowned Jewish philosopher, stor-teller, and pedagogue.

Martin (Hebrew name: Mordechai) Buber was born on February 8, 1878 in Vienna into a Jewish family. His grandfather, Salomon Buber, in whose house in Lemberg (L'viv, now Ukraine) Buber spent much of his childhood, worked as a renowned scholar in the field of Jewish tradition and literature. Buber had a multilingual education: the household spoke Yiddish and German, he picked up Hebrew and French in his childhood, and Polish at secondary school.

In 1892 Buber returned to his father's house in Lemberg. A religious crisis led him to break with Jewish religious customs: he started reading Kant and Nietzsche.

In 1896 Buber went to study in Vienna (philosophy, art history, German studies, philology). In 1898 he joined the Zionist movement. As a Zionist, Buber participated in congresses and undertook organizational work. He argued with Theodor Herzl about the political and cultural direction of Zionism. In 1899, while studying in Zürich, Buber met Paula Winkler (a non-Jewish Zionist writer who later converted to Judaism) from Munich, his future wife. In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt, the central organ of the Zionist movement. From 1903 he became occupied with the Jewish Hasidic movement. In 1904, Buber withdrew from much of his Zionist organizational work and devoted himself to study and writing. In that year he published his thesis: "Beiträge zur Geschichte des Individuationsproblems" (on Jakob Böhme and Nikolaus Cusanus).

In 1906 Buber published Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman - a collection of the tales of the Rabbi Nachman of Breslau, a renowned Hasidic rabbi, as interpreted and retold in a Neo-Hasidic fashion by Buber. In 1908 Buber published "Die Legende des Baalschem" (stories of the Baal Shem Tov), the founder of Hasidism.

From 1910 to 1914, Buber studied myths and published editions of mythic texts. In 1916 he moved from Berlin to Heppenheim. During World War I he helped establish the Jewish National Commission in order to improve the condition of Eastern European Jews. During that period he became the editor of Der Jude (German for "The Jew"), a Jewish monthly (until 1924). In 1921 Buber began his close relationship with Franz Rosenzweig. In 1922 Buber and Rosenzweig co-operated in Rosenzweig's House of Jewish Learning, known in Germany as Lehrhaus.

In 1923 Buber wrote his acknowledged masterpiece I and Thou. In 1925 he began translating the Hebrew Bible into German. He himself called this translation "Verdeutschung" ('Germanification'), since it does not always use literary German language but attempts to find new dynamic (often newly-invented) equivalent phrasing in order to respect the multivalent Hebrew original. Between 1926 and 1928 Buber co-edited the quarterly Die Kreatur ('The Creature').

In 1930 Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main. He resigned in protest from his professorship immediately after Hitler came to power in 1933. On October 4, 1933 the Nazi authorities forbade him to lecture. He then founded the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education, which became an increasingly important body as the German government forbade Jews to attend public education. The administration increasingly obstructed this body.

Finally, in 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem. He received a professorship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lecturing in anthropology and introductory sociology. He participated in the discussion of the Jews' problems in Palestine and of the Arab question -- working out of his Biblical, philosophic and Hasidic work. He became a member of the moderate group Ichud, which aimed at a bi-national state for Arabs and Jews in Palestine. In 1946 he published his work Paths in Utopia. After World War II Buber began giving lecture-tours in Europe and the USA. In 1951 he received the Goethe award of the University of Hamburg and in 1953 the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.In 1958 Buber’s wife Paula dies, and in the same year he won the Israel Prize. IN 1963 Buber gained the Erasmus Award in Amsterdam. On 13 June 1965, Buber died in his house in Talbiyeh, Jerusalem.

Albert Einstein 1879-1955

Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on Mar. 14, 1879. Einstein's parents, who were non-observant Jews, moved from Ulm to Munich when Einstein was an infant. The family business was the manufacture of electrical parts. When the business failed, in 1894, the family moved to Milan, Italy. At this time Einstein decided officially to relinquish his German citizenship. Within a year, still without having completed secondary school, Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to pursue a course of study leading to a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He spent the next year in nearby Aarau at the cantonal secondary school, where he enjoyed excellent teachers and first-rate facilities in physics. Einstein returned in 1896 to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he graduated, in 1900 as a secondary school teacher of mathematics and physics. After two years he obtained a post at the Swiss patent office in Bern. The patent-office work required Einstein's careful attention, but while employed (1902-09) there, he completed an astonishing range of publications in theoretical physics. For the most part these texts were written in his spare time and without the benefit of close contact with either the scientific literature or theoretician colleagues. Einstein submitted one of his scientific papers to the University of Zurich to obtain a Ph.D. degree in 1905. In 1908 he sent a second paper to the University of Bern and became a lecturer there. The next year Einstein received a regular appointment as associate professor of physics at the University of Zurich. 

By 1909, Einstein was recognized throughout German-speaking Europe as a leading scientific thinker. In quick succession he held professorships at the German University of Prague and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In 1914 he advanced to the most prestigious and best-paying post that a theoretical physicist could hold in central Europe, professor at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft in Berlin. When British eclipse expeditions in 1919 confirmed his predictions about the general theory of relativity, Einstein was bombarded by the popular press. Einstein's personal ethics also fired public imagination. Einstein, who after returning to Germany in 1914 did not reapply for German citizenship, was one of only a handful of German professors who remained a pacifist and did not support Germany's war aims. After the war, when the victorious allies sought to exclude German scientists from international meetings, Einstein--a Jew travelling with a Swiss passport--remained an acceptable German envoy. Einstein's political views as a pacifist and a Zionist pitted him against conservatives in Germany, who branded him a traitor and a defeatist. The public success accorded his theories of relativity evoked savage attacks in the 1920s by the anti-Semitic physicists Johannes Stark and Philipp Lenard, men who after 1932 tried to create a so-called Aryan physics in Germany. Just how controversial the theories of relativity remained for less flexibly minded physicists is revealed in the circumstances surrounding Einstein's reception of a Nobel Prize in 1921--awarded not for relativity but for his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect. With the rise of fascism in Germany, Einstein moved, in 1933 to the United States and abandoned his pacifism. He reluctantly agreed that the new menace had to be put down through force of arms. In this context Einstein sent a letter, in 1939, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that urged that the United States proceed to develop an atomic bomb before Germany did. The letter, composed by Einstein's friend Leo Szilard, was one of many exchanged between the White House and Einstein, and it contributed to Roosevelt's decision to fund what became the Manhattan Project.

As much he appeared to the public as a champion of unpopular causes, Einstein's central concerns always revolved around physics. At the age of 59, when other theoretical physicists would long since have abandoned original scientific research, Einstein and his co-workers Leopold Infeld and Banesh Hoffmann achieved a major new result in the general theory of relativity. Until the end of his life Einstein sought a unified field theory, whereby the phenomena of gravitation and electromagnetism could be derived from one set of equations. After 1920, however, while retaining relativity as a fundamental concept, theoretical physicists focused more attention on the theory of quantum mechanics, as elaborated by Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and others, and Einstein's later thoughts went somewhat neglected for decades. This picture has changed in more recent years. Physicists are now striving to combine Einstein's relativity theory with quantum theory in a "theory of everything," by means of such highly advanced mathematical models as superstring theories.


Louis Brandeis 1856-1941

Brandeis was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1856 to a family tolerant of Jewish and Christian rituals. In later life Brandeis might be best described as a secular-humanist. Although he completed his secondary education in Germany, he returned to the United States where he studied law at Harvard. After settling in Boston, Brandeis became a successful lawyer spending a good deal of his time pursuing cases with a political bent. In particular, he enjoyed representing small companies against giant corporations, and aiding the cause of the minimum wage against companies opposed to this principle. In 1912, he supported Woodrow Wilson's nomination for Presidency and in 1916, was appointed a Supreme Court judge, the first Jew ever to be appointed to this position. Brandeis showed little interest in Jewish affairs until the turn of the century when a combination of his professional work and a changing political climate brought about an alteration. He was introduced to Zionism by Jacob de Haas, an English Zionist, and later still by Aaron Aaronsohn, the Palestinian botanist and founder of Nili. Brandeis became active in Zionist affairs during the First World War, when he accepted the role of Chairperson of the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs. Brandeis had a major impact on the American branch of the Zionist movement, drawing to it a number of sympathisers, improving its organization and its finance.

Whilst he resigned his official position on joining the Supreme Court, he nonetheless worked behind the scenes to influence President Woodrow Wilson to support the Zionist cause. After the war, Brandeis headed a delegation of American Zionists to London where at a conference differences emerged between Weizmann and himself. These arguments over the role of the organization and its pursuit of political activities caused a rift between the two leaders with Weizmann gaining the upper hand. Brandeis withdrew from Zionist activity although he continued to take part in Eretz-Israel economic affairs. Brandeis did intervene from time to time in political matters for example he appealed to Roosevelt to oppose the British partition scheme of 1937 calling instead for the whole area of Eretz-Israel to become a Jewish National Home.

Brandeis represented a rather different genre of Zionism, one born out of the American context that affirmed Zionism as part of American ethnic identity. It was Brandeis who coined the term that "to be a good American meant that local Jews should be Zionists." He died in Washington D.C.in 1941.

George Gershwin 1898 - 1938

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn in 1898, the second of four children from a close-knit immigrant family. He began his musical career as a song-plugger on Tin Pan Alley, but was soon writing his own pieces. Gershwin's first published song, "When You Want ‘Em, You Can't Get ‘Em," demonstrated innovative new techniques, but only earned him five dollars. Soon after, however, he met a young lyricist named Irving Ceaser. Together they composed a number of songs including "Swanee," which sold more than a million copies. In the same year as "Swanee," Gershwin collaborated with Arthur L. Jackson and Buddy De Sylva on his first complete Broadway musical, "La, La Lucille". Over the course of the next four years, Gershwin wrote forty-five songs; among them were "Somebody Loves Me" and "Stairway to Paradise," as well as a twenty-five-minute opera, "Blue Monday." Composed in five days, the piece contained many musical clichés, but it also offered hints of developments to come. In 1924, George collaborated with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, on a musical comedy "Lady Be Good". It included such standards as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "The Man I Love." It was the beginning of a partnership that would continue for the rest of the composer's life. Together they wrote many more successful musicals including "Oh Kay!" and "Funny Face", staring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. While continuing to compose popular music for the stage, Gershwin began to lead a double life, trying to make his mark as a serious composer.

When he was 25 years old, his jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue" premiered in New York's Aeolian Hall at the concert, "An Experiment in Music." The audience included Jascha Heifitz, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, Serge Rachmaninov, and Igor Stravinsky. Gershwin followed this success with his orchestral work "Piano Concerto in F, Rhapsody No. 2" and "An American in Paris". Serious music critics were often at a loss as to where to place Gershwin's classical music in the standard repertoire. Some dismissed his work as banal and tiresome, but it always found favour with the general public. In the early thirties, Gershwin experimented with some new ideas in Broadway musicals. "Strike Up The Band", "Let ‘Em Eat Cake", and "Of Thee I Sing", were innovative works dealing with social issues of the time. "Of Thee I Sing" was a major hit and the first comedy ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 1935 he presented a folk opera "Porgy and Bess" in Boston with only moderate success. Now recognized as one of the seminal works of American opera, it included such memorable songs as "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Summertime." In 1937, after many successes on Broadway, the brothers decided go to Hollywood. Again they teamed up with Fred Astaire, who was now paired with Ginger Rogers. They made the musical film, "Shall We Dance", which included such hits as "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Soon after came "A Damsel in Distress", in which Astaire appeared with Joan Fontaine. After becoming ill while working on a film, he had plans to return to New York to work on writing serious music. He planned a string quartet, a ballet and another opera, but these pieces were never written. At the age of 38, he died of a brain tumour. Today he remains one of America's most beloved popular musicians.

The Marx Brothers

The Marx Brothers were sibling comedians of vaudeville, stage plays, and film. The brothers were Groucho (Julius Henry Marx, 1890-1977), Chico (Leonard Marx, 1887-1961), Harpo (Adolph Arthur Marx, 1888-1964), Zeppo (Herbert Marx, 1901-1979) and Gummo (Milton Marx, 1892-1977). They were given their first break in vaudeville. Their uncle Al Shean was half of the vaudeville act Gallagher and Shean, and his success no doubt inspired their mother Minnie Marx to put her boys on the stage. Groucho started in vaudeville in 1905, mostly as a singer. By 1907 he and Gummo were singing together as two-thirds of The Three Nightingales. The next year Harpo became the fourth Nightingale. By 1910 the group was expanded to include their mother and their Aunt Hannah and renamed The Six Mascots. The act evolved from singing with some incidental comedy to a comedy sketch set in a schoolroom, featuring Groucho as the teacher presiding over a classroom which included students Harpo, Gummo and, by 1912, Chico. The last version of the school act, entitled Home Again, was written by Al Shean. By this time the brothers had begun to incorporate their unique brand of comedy into their act and to develop their characters. Groucho began to wear his trademark greasepaint moustache and walk stooped over, Harpo began to wear a red fright wig, carried a small bicycle horn and never spoke, Chico started to talk in a fake Italian accent. Their stage names were coined by monologist Art Fisher during a poker game on the road, based both on the brothers' personalities and Knocko the Monk, a popular comic strip of the day. Groucho was so named for his saturnine disposition and the fact that he carried his money in a "grouch-bag" for safe keeping; Harpo because he played the harp, and Chico (pronounced "Chick-o") after his affinity for the ladies. In his autobiography Harpo Speaks! Harpo explains that Gummo was named because he crept about the theatre like a gumshoe detective, and Zeppo for his athletic prowess and ability to do chin-ups like "Zippo the Chimpanzee." By 1924, the brothers' vaudeville act had become successful enough to take them to England and Broadway, where they made it big with I'll Say She Is and The Cocoanuts.

The Marx stage shows became popular just as Hollywood was making the change to sound films. The brothers struck a contract with Paramount and embarked on their career in films. Gummo left the group before their jump to film; Zeppo would replace him for the Paramount pictures. Their first two films were adaptations of Broadway shows: The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930). Both were written by George S. Kaufman. Their third film, Monkey Business (1931), was their first that was not based on a stage production. Horse Feathers (1932) was their most popular film yet, and won them the cover of Time Magazine. The last Paramount film, Duck Soup (1933), is now considered by many the finest: it the only Marx Brothers film on the American Film Institute's "100 YEARS...100 MOVIES" list. In 1933, however, the public was not receptive to the satire of dictators and war. Additionally, Zeppo, tired of having to play the straight romantic lead, announced he would do no more films after Duck Soup. The three remaining brothers moved to MGM, and, following the suggestion of producer Irving Thalberg, decided to alter the formula for the subsequent films. In the rest of their films, their comedy would be interwoven with romantic plots and non-comic musical numbers. Only the first five films represent their genius in its pure form. The brothers had been talented musically from an early age. Harpo, especially, could play nearly any instrument, including the harp, which he often played on film. Chico was a pianist, and Groucho played the guitar. On January 16, 1977, The Marx Brothers were inducted into the Motion Picture Hall of Fame

 

Golda Meir 1898-1978

Golda Meir was born in Kiev in 1898. Economic hardship forced her family to emigrate to the United States in 1906, where they settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In high school she joined the Zionist group, "Poalei Zion" (Workers of Zion). She immigrated to British Mandate Palestine in 1921 with her husband, Morris Myerson, and settled in Kibbutz Merhavya. Moving to Tel Aviv in 1924, she became an official of the Histadrut Trade Union and served in a managerial post with the union's construction corporation, Solel Boneh. Between 1932 and 1934 she worked as an emissary in the United States, serving as secretary of the Hechalutz women's organization; she also became secretary of the Histadrut's Action Committee, and later of its policy section. When the pre­state British Mandatory Authorities imprisoned most of the Jewish community's senior leadership in 1946, she replaced Moshe Sharett as head of the Jewish Agency's Political Department, the chief Jewish liaison with the British. Elected to the Executive of the Jewish Agency, she was active in fundraising in the United States to help cover the costs of the Israeli War of Independence, and became one of the State's most effective spokesmen. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion appointed Golda Meir to be a member of the Provisional Government. A few days before the Declaration of Independence, Ben-Gurion sent her disguised as an Arab on a hazardous mission to persuade King Abdullah of Jordan not to attack Israel. But the King had already decided his army would invade the Jewish state following the British departure. In June 1948, Meir was appointed Israel's Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Elected to the Knesset as a Mapai member in 1949, she served as Minister of Labour and National Insurance until 1956. In June 1956, she became Foreign Minister, a post she held until January 1966. As Foreign Minister, Meir was the architect of Israel's attempt to create bridges to the emerging independent countries of Africa via an assistance program based on practical Israeli experience in nation building. She also endeavoured to cement relations with the United States and was successful in creating extensive bilateral relations with Latin American countries.

Between 1966 and 1968, she served as Secretary ­General of Mapai, and then as the first Secretary-General of the newly formed Labour Party. When Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died suddenly in early 1969, the 71-­year-­old Meir assumed the post of Premier, becoming the world's third female Prime Minister (after Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka and Indira Gandhi of India). As Prime Minister she inherited Eshkol's second National Unity Government administration, but this broke up over the question of continuing the cease-fire with Egypt in the absence of a peace treaty. She then continued in office with the Alignment (Labour & Mapam), the National Religious Party and the Independent Liberals. The major event of her administration was the Yom Kippur War, which broke out with massive coordinated Egyptian and Syrian assaults against Israel on October 6, 1973. As the post-war Agranant Inquiry Commission established, the IDF and the government had erred seriously in their assessment of Arab intentions. Although she and the Labour Party won the elections (postponed due to the war until December 31, 1973), she resigned in 1974 in favour of Yitzhak Rabin. She passed away in December 1978 and was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.


 

Sarah Bernhardt 1844-1923

Born in Paris as Henriette Rosine Bernard, the eldest surviving illegitimate daughter of Judith van Hard, a Dutch Jewish courtesan known as "Youle." Her father was reportedly Edouard Bernard, a French lawyer, and she was educated in French Catholic convents. To support herself, she combined the career of an actress with that of a courtesan - at the time, the two were considered scandalous to a roughly equal degree. She was sponsored into the Conservatoire de Musique et Déclamation by the Duc de Morny in 1859 for theatrical training. Her stage career started in 1862, largely in comic theatre and burlesque. She made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand all over Europe and in the United States. She soon developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the title, “The Divine Sarah”; arguable, she may have been the most famous actress of the 19th Century, Although primarily a stahge actress, Bernhardt made several earlier cylinders and discs of famous dialoge from various productions. One of the earliest was a reading from Phedre by Jean Racine, at Thomas Edison’s  home on a visit to New York City in the 1880s. Multi-talented, she was involved with the visual arts as well as acting, painting and sculpting herself, as well as modelling for Antonio de La Gandara. She was also to  publish a series of books and plays throughout her life.

Her social life was as continuously active. She had an affair with a Belgian nobleman, Charles-Joseph-Eugene-Henri, Prince de Ligne, with whom she had her only child, the writer Maurice Bernhardt, in 1864 (he married a Polich princess, Maria Jablonowska, 1863-1914). Later lovers included several artists (Gustave Dore and Georges Clarin) and actors (Mounet-Sully and Lou Tellegen). She married Greek-born actor Aristides Damala (aka Jacques Damala) in London in 1882, but the marriage, which legally endured until Damala's death in 1889 at age 34, was quickly collapsed, largely due to the young actor's dependence on morphine.

Bernhardt was also one of the pioneer silent movie actresses, debuting as Hamlet in Le Duel d’Hamlet in 1900. (Technically, this was not a silent film, as it had accompanying cylinders with dubbed dialogue.) She went on to star in eight motion pictures and two biographical films in all. The latter included Sarah Bernhardt à Belle-Isle (1912), a film about her daily life at home. In 1915, ten years after a serious injury, her right leg was amputated, confining her to a wheelchair for several months. Nonetheless, she continued her career, in spite of the need to use a wooden prosthetic limb. She died in the arms of her son Maurice. She is buried in Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

Sigmund Freud 1856-1939

Sigmund Freud was born May 6, 1856, in a small town -- Freiberg -- in Moravia. His father was a wool merchant with a keen mind and a good sense of humour. His mother was a lively woman, her husband's second wife and 20 years younger. She was 21 years old when she gave birth to her first son, her darling, Sigmund. Sigmund had two older half-brothers and six younger siblings. When he was four or five -- he wasn't sure -- the family moved to Vienna, where he lived most of his life. A brilliant child, always at the head of his class, he went to medical school, one of the few viable options for a bright Jewish boy in Vienna those days. There, he became involved in research under the direction of a physiology professor named Ernst Brücke. Brücke believed in what was then a popular, if radical, notion, which we now call reductionism: "No other forces than the common physical-chemical ones are active within the organism." Freud would spend many years trying to "reduce" personality to neurology, a cause he later gave up on. In 1937 the Nazis annexed Austria, and Freud, who was Jewish, was allowed to leave for England. For these reasons, it was above all with the city of Vienna that Freud's name was destined to be deeply associated for posterity, founding as he did what was to become known as the 'first Viennese school' of psychoanalysis, from which, it is fair to say, psychoanalysis as a movement and all subsequent developments in this field flowed. The scope of Freud's interests, and of his professional training, was very broad - he always considered himself first and foremost a scientist, endeavouring to extend the compass of human knowledge, and to this end (rather than to the practice of medicine) he enrolled at the medical school at the University of Vienna in 1873. He concentrated initially on biology, doing research in physiology for six years under the great German scientist Ernst Brücke, who was director of the Physiology Laboratory at the University, thereafter specialising in neurology. He received his medical degree in 1881, and having become engaged to be married in 1882, he rather reluctantly took up more secure and financially rewarding work as a doctor at Vienna General Hospital. Shortly after his marriage in 1886 - which was extremely happy, and gave Freud six children, the youngest of whom, Anna, was herself to become a distinguished psychoanalyst - Freud set up a private practice in the treatment of psychological disorders, which gave him much of the clinical material on which he based his theories and his pioneering techniques. In 1885-86 Freud spent the greater part of a year in Paris, where he was deeply impressed by the work of the French neurologist Jean Charcot, who was at that time using hypnotism to treat hysteria and other abnormal mental conditions. When he returned to Vienna, Freud experimented with hypnosis, but found that its beneficial effects did not last. At this point he decided to adopt instead a method suggested by the work of an older Viennese colleague and friend, Josef Breuer, who had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the latter sometimes gradually abated. Working with Breuer, Freud formulated and developed the idea that many neuroses (phobias, hysterical paralyses and pains, some forms of paranoia, etc.) had their origins in deeply traumatic experiences which had occurred in the past life of the patient but which were now forgotten, hidden from consciousness; the treatment was to enable the patient to recall the experience to consciousness, to confront it in a deep way both intellectually and emotionally, and in thus discharging it, to remove the underlying psychological causes of the neurotic symptoms. This technique, and the theory from which it is derived, was given its classical expression in Studies in Hysteria, jointly published by Freud and Breuer in 1895.

Shortly thereafter, however, Breuer, found that he could not agree with what he regarded as the excessive emphasis, which Freud placed upon the sexual origins and content of neuroses, and the two parted company, with Freud continuing to work alone to develop and refine the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. In 1900, after a protracted period of self-analysis, he published The Interpretation of Dreams, which is generally regarded as his greatest work, and this was followed in 1901 by The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, and in 1905 by Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud's psychoanalytic theory was initially not well received - when its existence was acknowledged at all it was usually by people who were, as Breuer had foreseen, scandalised by the emphasis placed on sexuality by Freud - and it was not until 1908, when the first International Psychoanalytical Congress was held at Salzburg, that Freud's importance began to be generally recognised. This was greatly facilitated in 1909, when he was invited to give a course of lectures in the United States, which were to form the basis of his 1916 book Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. From this point on Freud's reputation and fame grew enormously, and he continued to write prolifically until his death, producing in all more than twenty volumes of theoretical works and clinical studies. He was also not adverse to critically revising his views, or to making fundamental alterations to his most basic principles when he considered that the scientific evidence demanded it - this was most clearly evidenced by his advancement of a completely new tripartite (id, ego, and super-ego) model of the mind in his 1923 work The Ego and the Id. He was initially greatly heartened by attracting followers of the intellectual calibre of Adler and Jung, and was correspondingly disappointed personally when they both went on to found rival schools of psychoanalysis - thus giving rise to the first two of many schisms in the movement - but he knew that such disagreement over basic principles had been part of the early development of every new science. After a life of remarkable vigour and creative productivity, he died of cancer while exiled in England in 1939.