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Noah's Ark

Malcah Zeldis (American, b. 1931)

Noah's Ark, 1978

  • Oil on canvas
  • 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Jay Johnson, 1980-10
  • © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Not on view

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Noah's Ark

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Noah's Ark

Zeldis’s representation of the flood story is highly stylized. The central feature of the work—the ark—almost overflows with people and animals, painted in intense, bright colors. The roiling sea is rendered with twisting tendrils of water and its curved forms are echoed in the bumps of the hills in the landscape and the arc of the rainbow in the background. The bottom contour of the ark repeats this curved form upside down. The warm, bright red of the ark contrasts with the cool blue of the sea and the greens of the landscape. The contour of the shoreline—a strong, angular zigzag—balances the curved forms found elsewhere in the image.

Most of the forms in the painting are rendered flatly. Zeldis outlines many of them, adding to their flatness. In spite of the flatness of the individual figures, animals, and objects, Zeldis creates a sense of perspective or depth within the picture by making things smaller when they are supposed to be farther away.

Zeldis’s palette is full of primary and secondary colors—or tints of them (white added to them).

The presence of both the sun and moon in the sky in the background suggests that the narrative is conflating episodes from different moments in time.