“The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz” at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia explores the transformative changes America has experienced since 2020 and addresses antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and more. Opened on June 4 and remaining on view through December 2022, The Jonathan Horowitz exhibition offers new perspectives on history and raises – but does not answer – questions related to themes, ideas, and events found in The Weitzman’s core exhibition, which interprets over 360 years of American Jewish life.
Horowitz, an artist who is known for incorporating social issues into his practice, has designed a series of installations that include key works from his oeuvre and significant works by renowned artists across generations. In addition to Horowitz, artists featured include Adrian Piper, Ben Shahn, Tabboo!, Jenny Holzer, Elizabeth Catlett, Collier Schorr, Aya Brown, Malaquías Montoya, and Nicholas Galanin. An installation of commissioned posters by contemporary artists will include works by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Christine Sun Kim, Jeffrey Gibson, Kim Gordon and Jason Smith, Sable Elyse Smith, and many others.
Works from the Exhibition include:
- Horowitz’s large-scale “Untitled (August 23, 2017–February 18, 2018, Charlottesville, VA)” depicts the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee as it appeared covered by a black tarp after August 2017’s violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Malaquías Montoya’s “Cristobal Colón” lithograph addresses colonialism’s devastating impact on Indigenous peoples.
- Horowitz’s “Pink Curve” is a hybrid of an Elsworth Kelly sculpture and the badge that homosexual men were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
- Tabboo!’s “Tree of Life” memorialize the victims of the antisemitic mass shooting that took place at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, 2018, the deadliest attack ever on Jews in the United States.
- Horowitz’s “Power” replicates the menu of skin tone options for the raised fist emoji.
- Three posters by Aya Brown feature intricate drawings of Black female essential workers. These were initially installed on bus shelters throughout Brooklyn, New York.
- Horowitz’s glitter painting “Rainbow American Flag for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend” appropriates both the work of Jasper Johns and that of Horowitz’s partner, Rob Pruitt, who is known for his glitter paintings of panda bears.
“‘The Future Will Follow The Past’ builds on the Museum’s practice of inviting artists and creatives to reflect on and reinterpret our content,” Dr. Josh Perelman, Chief Curator and director of Exhibitions and Interpretation, who has overseen the three major reopening exhibitions and installations, said. “Like The Weitzman itself, Horowitz’s installations emphasize how the story of Jewish life in America can serve as a starting point for exploring our connections and differences, participating in dialogue and debate, and sharing our lives and our dreams.”
As a “visual commentary,” Horowitz’s installations engage with the core exhibition’s major themes – including immigration and adaptation, tradition and change, and advocacy and service – and respond to the current intensification of xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, and other forms of bigotry. Relevant, reflective, and surprising, they bring fresh, new layers of meaning to the experience of museum goers. Visitors will encounter them throughout the Museum, and each floor includes at least one large-scale work. A QR code-based audio tour featuring Horowitz, Erica Brown, Vice Provost and Inaugural Director of Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership at Yeshiva University, , and Beth Wenger, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies/Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of History, will accompany the special exhibition. A new Museum map will also be available.
Several works from Horowitz’s “We Fight to Build a Free World” exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum, originally scheduled to open in March 2020, are also part of this exhibition. Horowitz is creating a new work about voting rights for the exhibition and new editions of his signature pieces, “Power” and “Pink Curve.”
About The Weitzman
The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. It is located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The Weitzman recently reopened — after a two-year closure and Chapter 11 emergence — with a new name, new endowment, free admission,