The University of California, Berkeley’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life is about to become home to a major collection of the works and personal papers of Arthur Szyk, thanks to a gift from the Bay Area-based Taube Philanthropies.
Szyk, who was born to a Jewish family in Łódź, Poland in 1894, was a book illustrator and political artist. His work was known for its invocation of Renaissance and medieval artistic traditions, and his great attention to color. Working primarily in France and Poland until the mid-1930s, he eventually relocated first to London, then to New York.
While in New York, Szyk met the parents of Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies.
Taube Philanthropies’s $10.1 million gift of the collection is both the largest granted for the acquisition of art and largest individual monetary gift directed towards Jewish studies in the University’s history. Taube previously provided the 15,000-item Magnes Collection, the third-largest American Jewish museum collection, with a grant that assisted in its 2010 move to the University.
“Arthur Szyk’s unique contributions to contemporary art and political illustration have not yet been recognized to the extent his work deserves,” Taube said in a press release.
“With our shared Polish Jewish heritage, and a relationship my parents developed with Szyk upon first arriving in the United States from Poland in the early 1940s, it is significant to me to ensure that Szyk’s remarkable works are available to today’s and future generations.”