This April, the Pennsylvania State University Press published “The Prophetic Quest,” an informative and exquisitely illustrated volume on the stained-glass windows of Jacob Landau at the Keneseth Israel synagogue in Elkins Park, just north of Philadelphia. The book, edited by David S. Herrstrom and Andrew D. Scrimgeour, pulls back the curtain on this little-known work of art.
Designed by the renowned American artist Jacob Landau, “The Prophetic Quest“ encompasses ten masterful abstract pieces of stained glass that depict the lives and words of the biblical prophets, each towering nearly 25 feet high and spanning five feet across. Featuring essays recounting Landau’s vision, the history of his project, and detailed interpretive commentary on each window, the book presents an immersive experience of Landau’s religious masterwork. Personal reflections written by artists, art historians, poets, clergy, and congregants about their experience of “The Prophetic Quest” round out the volume with new ways to view and appreciate Landau’s creation.
Gorgeously illustrated, this book sheds light on American synagogue art and the history of stained glass in America, and it cements Landau’s reputation as one of the leading American protest artists. The volume features essays by the editors as along with additional reflections from 15 other contributors including Monmouth University’s Director of Galleries and Collections Scott Knauer, and other leading experts.
Jacob Landau (1917-2001) was an American artist, humanist, and teacher, committed through his art to the advocacy of the human, the revelation of the tragic, and the hope of transcendence. Having lived through the Great Depression, Landau faced tough times and human cruelty, influences that can be seen throughout his works. In 1996, Monmouth University awarded Jacob Landau an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
Monmouth University is home to an extensive collection of Jacob Landau’s work, comprising over 300 prints, drawings and paintings. The collection was gifted to Monmouth University in 2008 by the Jacob Landau Institute of Roosevelt, NJ.
A preview of “The Prophetic Quest” is also available from the PSU Press.