Mark podwal

Mark Podwal may be best known for his drawings on The New York Times OP-ED page. In addition, he is the author and illustrator of books for children as well as for adults. Most of these works — Podwal's own as well as those he has illustrated for others—typically focus on Jewish legend, history and tradition. Exhibited in museums throughout the world, his art is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Fogg Art Museum and the Library of Congress.

Though he always loved to draw, Podwal never pursued formal art training and eventually his parents encouraged him to become a physician. While attending New York University School of Medicine, his passion for drawing once again crept in: the tumultuous events of the 1960’s compelled Podwal to create a series of political drawings that were published as his first book The Decline and Fall of the American Empire. These images were brought to the attention of an art director at The New York Times, and in 1972, his first drawing appeared on its OP-ED page. That drawing of the Munich massacre was later exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs Palais du Louvre.

Podwal is the author and illustrator of Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses and Crescents, A Sweet Year, Doctored Drawings, A Jewish Bestiary, Freud’s da Vinci, among others. King Solomon and His Magic Ring, a collaboration with Elie Wiesel, won a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 1999 and You Never Know, his collaboration with Francine Prose, won a National Jewish Book Award in 1998.

Fallen Angels, a collaboration with Harold Bloom was published in the fall of 2007. Author Cynthia Ozick has given Podwal the Hebrew name Baal Kav Emet, or "Master of the True Line." As she explains in her essay Ink & Inkling, "[Podwal] joins metaphysics to physics: essence to presence; ideas to real objects…The Master of the True Line is also master of hidden meanings, of symbol and metaphor." In 1996, the French government named Podwal an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. Hebrew College, Newton Centre, Massachusetts, in 2003 awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. In 2006, the Jewish Museum in Prague chose Podwal to create its Centennial print.

Beyond his works on paper, Podwal’s artistry has been employed in an array of diverse projects, including the design of a series of decorative plates for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His work has been animated for public television in A Passover Seder with Elie Wiesel (Time Warner), engraved on a Congressional Gold Medal, and woven into an Aubusson tapestry that adorned the ark in the main sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El in New York. Moreover, he designed sixteen kiln cast glass windows for the United Jewish Appeal Federation Headquarters in New York. Podwal is represented by Forum Gallery and has exhibited there since 1977. His papers are archived in the Princeton University Library. He has recently collaborated with Academy Award winning filmmaker Allan Miller on the documentary House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, narrated by Claire Bloom.


Mark Podwal
Photo: Karel Cudlin