• September 6, 2018–February 17, 2019

Todros Geller: Strange Worlds

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

610 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605

Todros Geller, South of Chicago, 1937, Wood engraving, 8 x 10 in. Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, Chicago.

Todros Geller: Strange Worlds focuses on the multifaceted oeuvre of Todros Geller (1889–1949), “Dean of Chicago Jewish Artists,” an influential Chicago artist and central figure in the history of modern American Jewish art. Born in Ukraine, Geller immigrated to Chicago in 1918, which remained his home until his death. An active proponent of the concept of Jewish art, he served as a mentor to numerous Chicago Jewish artists and as a prominent educator, first as a teacher at the Jewish People’s Institute and the Hull-House settlement, then as supervisor of art for the College of Jewish Studies (later Spertus Institute) and acting director of The Jewish Museum in Chicago. In both work and life, Geller reflected the prevailing social, political, and artistic concerns of his time, while remaining intimately entwined with Chicago’s evolving Jewish community and its efforts to establish, maintain, and promote Jewish identity.

This exhibition draws mainly from the unique holdings from the Spertus Institute’s collection to survey the broad scope of Geller’s creative endeavors. In addition to a broad range of paintings, prints, and works on paper, the collection includes an extensive archive of Geller’s personal materials, encompassing preparatory sketches, letters, books, postcards, periodicals, news articles, photographs, posters, book illustrations, and bookplates. Todros Geller: Strange Worlds draws on these unique resources—the majority on view for the first time—to examine the public and private concerns that animated Geller’s work throughout his career. This exhibition is organized by Ionit Behar, Curator of Collections at the Spertus Institute, and Susan Weininger, Professor Emerita of Art History at Roosevelt University.