“Despite its mission, Chicago’s ‘Voices & Visions’ exhibit is more about its Jewish artists’ visions than their Jewish voices”

Voices & Visions exhibit at Spertus Institute, Chicago

Voices & Visions exhibit at Spertus Institute, Chicago/Menachem Wecker

Before 2012, Rabbi Nachman of Breslau’s Hasidic flock and the sexually excited shared in common only playful references to “Breastlover Hasidim” on message boards on the blog Failed Messiah, as well as on the dark nether region of the Internet, where people search for “hasidic girls.” But thanks to a traveling exhibit of Jewish graphic design — which has become a national phenomenon — the original Breslov Hasid is now inextricably tied to Playboy magazine.

Renowned Jewish designer and artist Art Paul, who created the Playboy logo and served as the magazine’s art director for its first three decades, designed a poster bearing a quote from Rabbi Nachman (1772-1810) as part of the exhibit, “Voices & Visions.” Appended in light blue ink beneath a deconstructed face — reminiscent, in a way, of Mr. Potato Head — is the Rabbi Nachman quote: “If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.”

During an hour-long interview in his Chicago apartment, Paul waved off questions about whether it was ironic for a longtime Playboy designer to exhibit work in Jewish museums.

Read more of the article, “A collection of great names, but not great works,” in the Times of Israel.

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