Spring 2002
Volume 6 Number 3













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PTS Honors and Is Honored by Artist Jacob Landau

the art of Jacob Landau

Jacob Landau's "Behold, I Will Send You Elijah"

In a poignant tribute, surrounded by his friends and his forceful lithographs, Princeton Seminary honored artist Jacob Landau on December 7, 2001, in the Erdman Gallery. The gallery had mounted an exhibit of Landau’s art, titled “Unlimited Possibilities,” from October 29 through December 7.

Landau died on November 24 at the age of 85, and the SeminaryJacob Landau - "Malachi " from stained glass window at Keneseth, Israel was asked to host a service of tribute and remembrance in the artist’s honor. More than 100 people, many of them friends and fellow artists from Roosevelt, New Jersey, Landau’s home and an artists’ community, attended. Rick Osmer, PTS professor of Christian education, greeted and welcomed the guests. Osmer was an appropriate choice because he had been the one to suggest exhibiting Landau’s works. “A friend in Princeton introduced me to Jacob’s work several years ago,” he said, “and we went together to a public showing of his Dante cycle of lithographs in Roosevelt. I went to his studio and met him that day. I really liked his work and suggested that we might exhibit it at the Seminary.”

Joyce Tucker, dean of continuing education, remembered that at the gallery reception for the artist in early November, Landau, “though experiencing some physical difficulties, spoke with great conviction about his art.”

“Jacob was a post-Holocaust Jew,” Osmer said. “I think he felt that religion had failed the test of the Holocaust. But he was a deeply spiritual person in his own way, and he struggled with spiritual issues in his art. His paintings were not pretty in a traditional definition of beauty, but they were intense and powerful.”

Landau’s friend and neighbor David Herrstrom spoke at the tribute, remembering Landau’s warmth and compassion and “his steely intellect. His work had this wonderful quality of challenging you as well as seducing you,” he said. He also noted the sense of struggle within the artist’s work and compared Landau’s lithographs to the prints of poet William Blake. Landau’s later work began to evidence religious themes: in the 1970's and 1980's he made drawings of St. John, Jonah, Lazarus, Jacob, and Christ. The Seminary exhibit included his 1978 lithographs “Isaiah” and “Malachi,” which are now on loan to PTS, thanks to Rosa Giletti, who has represented Landau exclusively for the past 11 years.

And the greatest honor for the Seminary has been the gift from Giletti of a Landau lithograph, “Behold, I Will Send You Elijah,” a dramatic and colorful representation of the biblical prophet. It hangs in the foyer of Erdman Hall, a reminder that art can incarnate a prophetic word of justice for those both in and outside the faith community.