Paul Freeman, Four Children with
Freeman, like Koslowsky and Oren, portrays the Four Children as
children in age and dress. Freeman creates an orientalist flavor.
Identifying each child with an animal he distinguishes them by personality
traits. The wise child is colorfully dressed, and open to the world.
Located under a tree with an owl, he is not at all bookish or reclusive
even though he holds a book and expounds. The wicked child is identified
with the aggressive snake in the Garden of Eden. His body language
is closed and defiant and his clothing dark and foreboding in color.
The simple child is epitomized by the sheep that follows blindly,
while the fourth child sleeps beside a mother goose.
Weil: Four Children, Four Musicians
(Israel, ©1963 Safrai Gallery)
The Four Children are portrayed as a quartet of musicians, each
with his own instrument: the wise, with a shofar (for announcing
the coming of the messiah as Elijah is depicted in medieval haggadot);
the wicked, with a drum (typical of soldiers marching to war); the
simple, with a horn; the one who does not know how to ask, with
rattles (typical of a child). The quartet are formed from basic
geometric shapes: wise and wicked circles; simple
square; fourth child triangle and circle. The wise character
is portrayed as a bearded wise man wearing a striped tallit as well
as the priestly breast plate. The wicked one is a metal military
machine whose armor is his body (head as a helmet with eyes, legs
as stove pipes). The simple one is identified with Noah who is called
"simple" (tameem), meaning wholly righteous. Above his
head is the dove with an olive branch. His striped cloak may recall
Joseph's coat, the sign of being chosen. The fourth figure is the
only child here (smaller in stature and dressed as a child without
Codor (U.S.A., 1981): The Marx Brothers
How better can the Twentieth Century be summed up than by a portrait
of Groucho Marx as the "Wise Guy?" TOP
Reisinger: Four Aspects in Each of Us
(Israel, © 1982 Rabbinical Assembly of America)
While the Middle Ages offered a world view with clear types
wise and wicked the contemporary view is dubious about stereotypes
and judgmental categories applied to human beings. Each person is
a somewhat chaotic mixture of all the categories. The artist has
used a collage of torn colored papers whose outlines are not sharp,
which overlap haphazardly and whose colors and nongeometric shapes
interact in complex ways. It is probably impossible to label these
four collages according to the four categories of the Haggadah.
Perhaps Reisinger was thinking of the famous
quote from Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (19th C, Lithuania and Germany):
"Each of us contains all aspects of all four children"
each of us is a unique and changing collage.
These images are a featured part of the Rabbinical
Assembly (U.S.A. Conservative movement) haggadah, "A Feast
of Freedom." TOP