Papers of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert
Scope and Content Note
The collection documents the life and artistic career of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981), sculptor and designer of Jewish ceremonial objects. The collection includes clippings and publications about Wolpert's art, correspondence, personal documents, index cards, photographs, negatives, slides, sketches and paper models of objects Wolpert designed.
The papers span 1927-1992 with the bulk of materials falling between the 1960s-1980s. There are very few documents from the early part of Wolpert's life, when he was living in Germany, and from the 1930s-1940s, which he spent in Israel. The majority of documents pertain to Wolpert's life and work in the United States, at the Jewish Museum, from the late 1950s on. Most of the papers are in English, with a few clippings and other papers in Hebrew and German. The collection is organized in five series: Series I: Personal, Series II: General, Series III: Published Materials, Series IV: Index cards, Series V: Visual Materials.
The larger part of the collection focuses on Ludwig Wolpert's art and the remaining materials pertain to the artist's personal life. The collection contains numerous newspaper clippings and publications with articles about Ludwig Wolpert's artwork, as well as press releases and catalogs of Wolpert's art. Most of the clippings discuss individual objects designed by Wolpert. Some clippings include only photographs of Wolpert's art work as examples of ritual objects used during holidays or as awards at ceremonies of Jewish institutions, but do not contain any text about Wolpert's work. Most of the correspondence in the collection is also art related and includes inquires about Wolpert's work and letters of appreciation.
An extensive collection of photographs of Wolpert's artwork can be found in the Visual Materials series. These are reproductions of ritual and non-ritual objects that Wolpert designed, exteriors and interiors of synagogues, and photographs from exhibits. There are also negatives and slides depicting Wolpert's art. In addition, the collection contains original sketches for ritual objects, or parts of design for larger compositions, such as Hebrew letters and various symbols. Included are a few full size paper models of ritual objects.
Personal papers include biographical information, personal documents, and some correspondence. There is no family correspondence in the collection. Most of the personal letters are between Wolpert and his colleagues, and were sent on the occasion of Wolpert's birthdays. Visual materials include portraits of Wolpert, his wife Betty and daughter Chava, as well as group shots with colleagues. The larger part of the slides is also family related.
Yeshiva University Museum's collection includes ceremonial objects, drawings, busts, and maquettes for ceremonial objects and stained glass windows.
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, Hebrew, and German.
Open to researchers.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert was a sculptor and designer of Jewish ritual objects and was regarded as the first artist to integrate Hebrew lettering with silver ceremonial objects. He worked in a variety of materials in addition to silver—aluminum and other metals, glass, plastic, wood, and textiles.
Born in 1900 in Hildesheim, Germany, to a traditional Jewish family, Wolpert soon came to know and cherish his Jewish heritage. He developed an interest in art at an early age, and from 1916 until 1920, he studied sculpture in Frankfurt-am-Main's Kunstgewerbeschule, School for Arts and Crafts. After several years of independent work as a sculptor, he returned to the School of Arts and Crafts to study metalwork under a silversmith who had previously taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Leo Horowitz. It was then that Wolpert decided to devote himself to Jewish ceremonial art, applying the new trends of that time. In 1930 he created his first work with Hebrew lettering, a Passover plate for the Seder table, made from silver, ebony, and glass.
With the rise of Nazism in 1933, Wolpert went to Palestine. In 1935, he became a professor at the New Bezalel Academy for Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. His teaching stressed simplicity and functional purity of design, and influenced generations of Israeli artists and craftsmen.
In 1956, Drs. Abraham Kanof and Stephen Kaiser, impressed by Wolpert's work and his influence upon his students, invited him to the Jewish Museum in New York, where he established and was designated director of the Tobe Pascher Workshop, which is devoted to the creation of modern Jewish ceremonial art.
Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert was recognized in his time by the many commissions he received to create Judaica for synagogues, museums, and other public places, as well as from individuals to commemorate important personal events. His artistic creations include, among numerous others: a gold Hanukkah menorah for David Ben Gurion; the silver Torah case presented in 1948 to President Harry S. Truman by the first Israeli president, Chaim Weizmann (now in the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri); the Jewish section of the United States Air Force Academy chapel in Colorado Springs; and the entrance to the Jewish Chapel at John F. Kennedy Airport. His works have been displayed in Germany, Israel, and the United States.
In 1976 the Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago honored Wolpert with a Doctor of Hebrew Letters, in recognition of his contribution to the design and practice of Jewish art. In the same year, the Jewish Museum exhibited "Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert: A Retrospective." Wolpert remained in his position at the Tobe Pascher Workshop at the Jewish Museum until his death on November 6, 1981. He was succeeded in his work at the workshop by his students, Chava Wolpert Richard (his daughter), and Moshe Zabari.
CHRONOLOGY OF LUDWIG YEHUDA WOLPERT'S LIFE:
- Born in Hildesheim, Germany
- Enrolled in the Kunstgewerbeschule, School of Arts and Crafts in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
- Began working as an independent sculptor
- Returned to School of Arts and Crafts to study with silversmith Leo Horowitz
- Created his first work with Hebrew lettering, a Passover plate
- Left Germany for Palestine
- Named Professor and Director of the New Bezalel Academy for Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem
- Invited by Dr. Abraham Kanof and Dr. Stephen Kaiser to head the Tobe Pascher Workshop at the Jewish Museum
- Given honorary Doctor of Hebrew Letters by Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago
- Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert died on November 6, 1981
3.9 Linear Feet
The collection contains papers and artwork of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert, sculptor and designer of Jewish ceremonial objects. The collection includes clippings and publications about Wolpert's art, correspondence, personal documents, index cards, photographs, negatives, slides, sketches and paper models of objects Wolpert designed. Art work, such as sketches and models as well as photographs of art work constitute the larger part of this collection. The materials span 1927-1992 with the bulk of papers falling between the 1960s-1980s.
The collection is organized in five series:
Purchase from the Estate of Ludwig Wolpert.
Original metal artwork by Wolpert was separated from the archives and is a part of the Collection of Yeshiva University Museum.
- Guide to the Papers of Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981), 1927-1995
- Processed by Inna Giter and Dianne Ritchey Oummia
- © April 2002.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Edition statement
- This version was derived from LYWolpert02.xml
- September 2004.: Converted to ead 2002. Revised as LYWolpert02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.
- January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
- November 2016.: Updated folder title for OS 2 folder 13.