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The Critic as Patron and Mediator: Max Brod, Modern Art, and Jewish Identity in Early Twentieth-Century Prague

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AbstractEarly in his career the critic Max Brod (1884–1968) distinguished himself as a patron of modern art and a mediator among competing ethnic and religious groups. Beginning in 1907, Brod became one of the foremost supporters of Jewish artists in Prague, and an advocate for their alliance with non-Jewish contemporaries, both German and Czech. He promoted them in his critical writing and editorial work, collected their art, and introduced them to other sponsors of modernism. Through his patronage work, he shaped how the identities of these artists were presented to the public, positioned their art in contexts that endorsed acculturation and integration, and minimized perceptions of artistic and national difference. Yet Brod's outlook on Jewish artistic identity changed over time. During the First World War, as Brod became active in the Zionist movement, he began to consider that Jewish identity might productively be marked and expressed in modern art, although he remained reluctant to designate specific artistic forms and subjects as distinctly Jewish.

Affiliations: 1: Lehigh University


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