A Gift to Biro-Bidjan: Chicago, 1937
From Despair to New Hope

Ceil Rosenberg (born 1907-1939)

New Hope

from the portfolio A Gift to Biro-Bidjan, 1937
Woodcut, 10 x 8 in.
Oakton Community College
Gift of Karol Verson



Preface and Acknowledments
The Biro-Bidjan Project
Biro-Bidjan and American Support
The Woodcut as a Social 
The Title Page
Alex Topchevsky
William Jacobs
Aaron Bohrod
David Bekker
Louis Weiner
Mitchell Siporin
Edward Millman
Fritzi Brod
Bernece Berkman
Moris Topchevsky
Abraham Weiner
Raymond Katz
Todros Geller
Ceil Rosenberg

Born and reared in the Hull House district, Ceil Rosenberg finished grade school at 10, and high school at 13, too young to be admitted to the Art Institute of Chicago.  Eventually, at the Institute, she was a prize student.  She had her first lessons at Hull House and later studied in the studios of Todros Geller and Raymond Katz. 
New Hope, Ceil Rosenberg’s woodcut, is the most realistic image in the portfolio. Rosenberg, a WPA artist during the Depression, captured urban views in a dogmatic realism. Her image Winter Scene, which features Chicago, was selected as the cover of the book, A New Deal for the Arts, published in 1997 by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., and the University of Washington, Seattle. 

At the time Rosenberg created Winter Scene, artists of the Soviet Union adapted Social Realism as the official state-supported artistic trend. In 1933, the Moscow exhibition Artists of the Russian Federation Over Fifteen Years marked a new era. It rejected Russian avant-garde artists like Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) and declared Social Realism as the leading style during Stalin’s era. 

The term “social realism” appeared in a 1932 article in the Literary Gazette: “The masses demand of an artist honesty, truthfulness, and a revolutionary, socialist realism in the representation of the proletarian revolution.” A year later, Maksim Gorki published his essay “On Socialist Realism,” which dealt with “a new direction essential to us – socialist realism, which – it stands to reason – can be created only from the data of socialist experience.” 

New Hope repeats the concept of the “New Jew” in contrast to the “Old Jew” as it appears in Morris Topchevsky’s To a New Life. Rosenberg’s approach to this theme is more simplistic and direct. She focuses on the faces of two generations: the old, religious Jew positioned in the back and the young, secular pioneer holding the pitchfork in his hand. 

Ceil Rosenberg, Winter Scene (Chicago), 1934, Oil on canvas, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, National Archives and Records Administration, Hyde Park, New York. 


Return to Permanent Collection