PhotographyJewish HistoryPop CultureJewish Culture & Ideas
Jul 26, 2018–Jun 9, 2019
“Lew the Jew” (1880–1954) was one of the most influential artists tattooing in NYC’s Bowery at the beginning of the twentieth century. The exhibition includes previously unpublished and rare original tattoo artwork, photos, and correspondence between Lew and San Francisco tattooers “Brooklyn Joe” Lieber and C. J. ”Pop” Eddy.
Don Ed Hardy is one of San Francisco’s treasures—an artist, a legendary retired tattoo designer, an expert on the history of tattooing, and a writer, curator and publisher of many books on tattoo and related topics. He has published a book titled “Lew the Jew" Alberts: Early 20th Century Tattoo Drawings, and this exhibition is inspired by that book.
“Lew the Jew,” born Albert Morton Kurzman (1880–1954), was a New Yorker at the turn of the last century who had fought in the Spanish American War, and learned tattooing in the Philippines. When he returned, he became part of the emerging tattoo industry in the New York area, and one of the earliest developers of flash, the samples used in tattoo shops. Alberts was in the close-knit group of the most prominent American tattoo artists of the first quarter of the twentieth century, who stayed in close communication despite being spread across the country. This correspondence, containing iconic examples of American flash, are significant early records of tattoo history that show how these artists influenced each other’s styles. Alberts’ late-career correspondence with then-emerging Bay Area tattoo figures, Brooklyn Joe Lieber and C.J. “Pop” Eddy, shows this American folk-art form being collaboratively brought into being during the early years of American tattoo.
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Lew the Jew & the Origins of American Tattooing at CJM is Fascinating, Broke Ass Stuart
Lew the Jew's Tattoos, The Tablet
How a nice Jewish boy helped break America’s tattoo taboo, The Times of Israel
Jewish Museum unveils exhibit about early tattoo pioneer, San Francisco Chronicle
Lew the Jew & his rebel friends, Bay Area Reporter
Tattoo legend “Lew the Jew” Alberts rediscovered at CJM, 48 Hills
Tattoos and taboos: New CJM exhibit features famed Jewish body artist, J. The Jewish News of Northern California (JWeekly)
Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo, Tattoo Life
Summer Arts Preview: Aerial Dance, Spellbinding Photography, Tattoo Art + More, 7x7
Eight Great Cultural Events in San Francisco This Summer, SFGate
Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum. Sponsorship is generously provided by Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, Joyce Linker, and Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery.