(AMHERST, Mass.) – Yiddish, a commissioned work by sculptor Simon Kogan, was installed at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., on April 29, 2012. The 4,000 pound, Cor-Ten steel work is a permanent installation in the center’s Miller Sculpture Garden. The sculpture spells out the word “Yiddish,” and etched into the steel are verses from Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever’s “Di blayene platn fun Roms drukeray” (The Lead Plates at the Rom Press).
An internationally recognized sculptor, Kogan was born in Russia, where he received 13 years of classical academic training in Moscow and a Master of Fine Arts degree. He apprenticed under renowned sculptor Isaac Brodsky before immigrating to the United States in 1991.
Kogan’s work, which has been described as “monumental to miniature, reflecting a bold, yet poetic pursuit of the archetypal while rendering an ethereal quality highly resonant with the viewer,” is included in public and private collections around the world. His public works include the WWII Memorial (Olympia, Wash.), Tetris (Moscow Museum of History Figures), Cezanne (Aix-en-Provence, France), and the Holocaust Memorial (Spokane, Wash.).
The work was commissioned by the Center’s Sculpture Committee members Lee Hutt and Lief D. Rosenblatt. They reviewed the work of several sculptors before deciding on Kogan. “His work has a European esthetic and a historic humanity about it,” says Lee Hutt. “His choice of Cor-Ten steel, which rusts but does not decay, speaks to the idea and the strength of Yiddish and the Yiddish Book Center.”
Yiddish, a monumental non-figurative work, was conceived for the space it now occupies. In designing the sculpture, Kogan considered the center’s heymish-modern shtetl architecture, the landscape, and the mission of the center. The work is 11 feet long, 4.5 feet deep, and 4 feet high.
The sculpture was a gift of Lief D. Rosenblatt, a board member and chair emeritus of the Yiddish Book Center.
Since its founding in 1980, the Yiddish Book Center has rescued a million endangered Yiddish books, strengthened collections of more than 600 libraries around the world, digitized and posted 11,000 Yiddish books online, and offered a range of innovative programs to advance knowledge of Yiddish language, literature, and culture. The Yiddish Book Center’s distinctive headquarters in Amherst, Mass., features exhibitions, concerts, performances, films, and lectures