Until 30 August 2020, the Jewish Historical Museum is paying tribute to Eli Content, one of the most important contemporary Jewish artists in the Netherlands. The retrospective exhibition Eli Content: So Much I Gazed on Beauty features highlights from his idiosyncratic oeuvre from the past forty years.
The exhibition features more than ninety works, including paintings, drawings, artist’s books and installations. In his early years, Content mostly made sober, minimalist abstract works. Over the years, his work became representational and more colorful, initially incorporating natural motifs such as leaves and animals and more recently human figures and portraits. The art he makes today is strikingly direct and full of vitality.
Inspired by Judaism
Being Jewish means a great deal to Content. He is inspired by Judaism and the creation story, but he also takes inspiration from contemporary phenomena such as cartoons, plastic toys and medical textbooks. His constant drive for innovation is clearly evident in the exhibition.
Dream Forest in the attic
To coincide with the exhibition, Content has made a dream forest from waste cardboard in the attic of the Children’s Museum. This forest full of strange, clown-like figures is inspired by the large murals that Marc Chagall made for the Jewish Theatre in Moscow. From November 2019 to January 2021, children can experiment with making their own dream figures in the studio.
Eli Content is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Historical Museum’s ‘house artist’: the museum has frequently shown his work and owns several important works by him. His work has been exhibited extensively in the Netherlands and abroad, from the Stedelijk Museum and Museum Fodor in Amsterdam to the Jewish Museum in New York and the Barbican Art Gallery in London.