The Hebrew Home
at Riverdale
Call us anytime toll free at
Get The Facts
Art is an integral part of the Hebrew Home. Over 5,000 works of art are installed throughout the residential neighborhoods and public spaces for the enjoyment of residents, visitors and staff. The Derfner Judaica Museum maintains a collection of approximately 1,400 objects used in traditional Jewish ceremonies and rituals as well as Jewish Art.

Derfner Judaica Museum

Download Exhibition Brochure

Derfner Judaica Museum
Sunday-Thursday 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Located in the Jacob Reingold Pavilion


Vincent Hložník: Between War and Dream
Extended through August 16, 2015

Vincent Hložník (Slovak, 1919-1997), Untitled, 1962, linocut, 23 5/8 X 16 3/8 inches. HHAR 1407.

Vincent Hložník (Slovak, 1919-1997), Untitled, 1962, linocut, 23 5/8 X 16 3/8 inches. HHAR 1421.

Vincent Hložník (Slovak, 1919-1997), Untitled, 1962, linocut, 23 5/8 X 16 3/8 inches. HHAR 1414.

All works are from The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

This exhibition features 20 Surrealist-inspired linocut prints by Slovak artist Vincent Hložník (1919–1997) created in Czechoslovakia in 1962. They represent a turning point in the artist's career as his figurative motifs—always related to the exploration of the human condition—began to take on more symbolic and metaphorical meanings.

In the dystopic universe of the prints, detached human limbs, tangled corpses, monstrous figures assembled from eyes and teeth, the Angel of Death, and threatening flanks of silhouetted and stylized archaic warriors signal unspecified danger. Angles and voids activate the space and create an instability marking the very real threat of annihilation, whether from war or nuclear arms. Hložník's approach to art was profoundly affected by his time as a student in Prague during World War II where he witnessed Nazi atrocities. This experience led him to address themes of war, isolation and human suffering in his work.

Hložník is a key figure in modern Slovak art as both a teacher and artist, and had an immeasurable impact on its direction, particularly in the graphic arts. He established the highly influential Department of Graphic Art and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava after he joined the faculty in 1952. From this department emerged what is referred to as The Hložník School—a generation of Slovak graphic artists who approached art with a “deeply humanist experiencing of the world, on the border of reality and dream, of drama and poetry,” as described by Ludovít Petránsky, author of a monograph on Hložník. They often exhibited together as a group under the same name. Some of the most important figures in Slovak art in the latter half of the 20th century emerged from this school.

After 1948 when the country fell under Communist authority as a satellite state of the Soviet Union, modernist styles in all the arts were officially banned. All art had to adhere to the tenets of Socialist Realism, a figurative style that glorified Soviet ideals. Also described as “official art,” it was the only style allowed in Eastern Bloc countries. However, some modernist artists, including Hložník, for most of his career, managed to innovate and find success even within the confines of official art, surviving the tug-of-war over cultural policies between hardline Stalinists and reform-minded liberals. Around 1962—the same year the prints on view were created—Hložník was serving as chancellor at the Academy and exhibiting at major venues both domestically and abroad.

Although his work drew from modernist styles that were banned or shunned in Czechoslovakia at the time, his subjects were well received and he was a highly-respected artist and teacher. However, in 1972, during the process of “normalization” when new, hardline policies were implemented, Hložník was forced to give up his position. Many other intellectuals suffered similar fates, including art historian and critic Radislav Matuštík (1929-2006), who wrote frequently about Hložník, including the introduction to the catalogue for the artist's one-person show at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1965.

Hložník was born in 1919 in the small Slovak town of Svederník and studied drawing in secondary school. He went on to attend the School of Applied Arts in Prague in 1937. Just two years later, on March 15, 1939, German troops occupied the city. Hložník remained in Prague, and was profoundly affected by the daily atrocities that were occurring around him. His ongoing commitment to social justice is evidenced by his participation late in his life as one of 24 signatories representing important Slovak cultural figures who endorsed "Declaration on the Deportation of the Jews," a proclamation published in 1987 which denounced anti-Semitic measures during World War II.. Hložník died in Bratislava in 1997.

This is the first known exhibition of Hložník's work in the United States. His work has been widely exhibited and collected throughout the Slovak Republic and was shown during his lifetime in solo exhibitions in Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Switzerland and the U.K., among other countries. At the 1958 Venice Biennale, Hložník was one of three artists—the other two were Antonio Tapies of Spain and Kenneth Armitage of the U.K—to receive an award from the David E. Bright Foundation of Los Angeles. It was the first time in the history of the Biennale that an American organization had presented an award for which artists of any country could be eligible.

As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 11,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Tradition and Remembrance: Treasures of the Derfner Judaica Museum

Hanukkah Lamp
Bezalel School
Jerusalem, ca. 1920-29
Copper alloy: cast, pierced; copper: stamped
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Kiddush Cup
Bezalel School
Jerusalem, ca. 1910
Silver: filigree, engraved
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Hanukkah Lamp
Frankfurt-am-Main, ca. 1750-60
Silver: repoussé, chased, traced, punched, pierced, cast
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Shabbat/Festival Lamp
Andreas Schneider (German, active 18th century)
Augsburg, 1765
Silver: cast, engraved
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Scroll of Esther Case
Izmir, Turkey, 19th century
Silver: Filigree; parcel-gilt
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Torah Case (Tik)
Kashan, Persia, before 1950
Wood: painted; fabric

New York, late 19th century
Wood: carved, painted, gold leaf
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale Archive

Zygmunt Menkes (American, b. Poland, 1896-1986), Cohanim Blessing, ca. 1940s
Oil on canvas, Gift of Erica and Ludwig Jesselson and Family in Memory of Leo Forchheimer


The Derfner Judaica Museum occupies a 5,000-square-foot exhibition space in the Jacob Reingold Pavilion at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale. It is the focal point for a wide range of educational and exhibition programming for residents and visitors alike. Completion of the Museum was funded in part by a furnishings grant received from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. With approximately 250 objects, the inaugural exhibition, Tradition and Remembrance: Treasures of the Derfner Judaica Museum, explores the intersections of Jewish history and memory. The stories of objects used in traditional Jewish practice are interpreted in light of the role of memory in shaping both individual and communal identities. Among the featured objects in the exhibition are a silver filigree vase, ca. 1911, and an early copper alloy Hanukkah lamp, both from the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts founded in Jerusalem in 1906. Other objects come from near and far, including a set of 18th-century German Torah implements, a handsomely illuminated 19th-century Italian marriage contract and a 2nd-4th century lamella amulet.

The Judaica Museum was founded in 1982 when Riverdale residents Ralph and Leuba Baum donated their collection of Jewish ceremonial art to the Home. A refugee from Nazi persecution, Ralph Baum, and his wife, Leuba, had an intense desire to preserve and pass on to future generations the memory embodied in the objects they collected, the majority of which were used primarily by European Jews before the Holocaust. In 2008 the Judaica Museum was named in honor of its benefactors, the late Helen and Harold Derfner.