Isidor Kaufmann (Austrian, b. Hungary, 1853-1921)
Man With Fur Hat, c. 1910
- Oil on panel
- 16 1/8 x 12 3/16 in. (41 x 31 cm)
- The Jewish Museum, New York
- Gift of Lisl Weil Marx in memory of her husband Julius Marx and his brother Rudolf Marx, 1985-179
The portraits in Ken Aptekar’s I Hate the Name Kenneth are based on paintings by the Jewish artist Isidor Kaufmann. Kaufmann was born in Arad (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Rumania) in 1853. He studied art in Budapest and Vienna. Beginning in the 1890s, Kaufmann traveled to towns throughout Eastern Europe in search of traditional Jewish life. He created genre paintings and iconic portraits of pious Galician Jews, whose striking realism and exotic costumes reflect his close attention to detail and search for authenticity.
Although Aptekar copies Kaufmann’s meticulously detailed portraits, he makes them his own. While Kaufmann’s works are vibrant and colorful, Aptekar recreates them in black, white, and gray. This nearly monochromatic palette and the inclusion of the painted frames indicate that the works are not mere reproductions. By incorporating paintings of the frames, cropping the images in a seemingly arbitrary way, and interrupting his imagery with areas of white space, Aptekar reminds the viewer that he is offering his own take on Kaufmann’s portraits.
Compare Man with Fur Hat with the portraits in Ken Aptekar’s work. How are they similar or different?
Man with Fur Hat was painted by the Jewish artist Isidor Kaufmann about a hundred years ago. Aptekar copied the images in I Hate the Name Kenneth from portraits by Kaufmann. Why do you think Aptekar incorporated images of Kaufmann’s work? What effect does Aptekar create by altering Kaufmann’s paintings for his own work of art?