The 613 by Archie Rand

Reserve Tickets | The 613 Farash Free Days | Hours | share with us #the613atMAG

April 25–July 18, 2021

For over five decades Archie Rand has been regarded as a maverick and rule-breaker, and The 613 is his most ambitious work. An enormous multi-panel painting, it depicts surprising responses to the 613 commandments of the Torah, which is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). Yes, there are more than 10 commandments—the rules that govern ethical and religious behavior in Judaism. Rand’s monumental installation fills MAG’s Docent Gallery and explores traditions of both biblical interpretation and artistic expression. It exemplifies Rand’s groundbreaking achievements in the construction of contemporary Jewish iconography, affirming his position as a relentlessly innovative artist.

Interrogation is a common strategy among the individual panels, as the images may underscore, contradict, and very often obscure the teachings of the referenced commandments. Quoting masterworks by artists such as Paul Cézanne and Edouard Manet and enlisting imagery from mainstream media as well as Jewish comic artists, Rand interweaves visual culture and Jewish Scripture, which, historically, has been interpreted to forbid the creation of idols, images, and, even more broadly, art.

On another level, The 613 also challenges commonly held beliefs about expression and representation. By linking the Torah’s commandments with oftentimes seemingly unrelated pictures, Rand undermines how people usually expect words and images to function when juxtaposed. His loose, pulp fiction-inspired, cartoon-like painterly style is as irreverent to the history of painting as it is to the religious tradition with which it grapples. The complexity of the project encourages an investigation of both systems of knowledge, that of art history and of Judaism, and demands an engaged viewing. The 613 is fundamentally a study of the mechanics of tradition and how meaning is made.

The exhibition includes the animated short film, Kol Nidre #3 (2017) with direction and animation by Tatiana McCabe, paintings by Archie Rand from The 613, and music by Jeremiah Lockwood, produced by Bill McGarvey and Executive Producer Dan Ain, for Because Jewish.

Archie Rand’s book The 613 published by Blue Rider Press (a division within Penguin Random House) is available for sale in THE STORE @ MAG.

shown: Archie Rand, Not To Insult Or Harm Anybody With Words. (Leviticus 25:17), part of The 613, 2001–06, serial painting composed of 614 panels, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16 in. each. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Mary Faith O’Neill. The 613 by Archie Rand.


The Evolution of The 613 with Archie Rand
Sunday, April 25, 2021 | 2 pm

Archie Rand speaks in conversation with MAG Director Jonathan Binstock about his monumental installation, The 613 by Archie Rand. Rand shares insights to his vibrant exhibition on view from April 25-July 18 at MAG.

The Farash Foundation
We are proud to partner with the Farash Foundation to bring The 613 by Archie Rand to Rochester! The Farash Foundation believes that arts and culture enable our community to understand its past and to create an inspiring and shared future. To provide a more inclusive experience of this exhibition, the Farash Foundation has sponsored four days of free admission. Save the date and click on the link below to secure your tickets. Use the hashtag #the613atMAG to post and say thank you to the Farsh Foundation!

Sunday, May 16 || Thursday, May 27 || Sunday, June 27 || Thursday, July 8

Jewish Heritage Celebration Day
Sunday, June 13, 2021 | FREE

Several times each year, the Memorial Art Gallery offers Rochester area families and community members the opportunity to learn more about specific cultures. Suggested donation of $5 per group when you RSVP.
learn more

The Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery is a series sponsor for our Celebration Days.

Archie Rand’s The 613: From Conception to Creation
Thursday June 24 | 6 pm | FREE

Archie Rand’s The 613 mesmerizes in its scale, dazzling color, and cornucopia of visual interpretations. Art historian Samantha Baskind and Archie Rand will discuss over Zoom his thought process when conceptualizing this extraordinary and sometimes irreverent series, artistic approach, and critical reaction to his ambitious project, years in the making.

Additional Resources

Download your own Archie Rand Coloring Pages (PDF)

Camille Paglia, American academic and social critic, joins artist Archie Rand for a discussion about his work and new book The 613.

Listen here

Archie Rand’s career as an artist spans five decades with myriad themes and genres. Among his pioneering explorations, The 613 is surely one of his most ambitious feats yet. Without any idea where the work would be exhibited, Rand began transforming each and every one of the 613 mitzvahs, or commandments, into its own breathtaking painting, a series that took five years to complete. Each of the gorgeous and perplexing panels features a vibrant, unexpected image that brings forth the heart of its law and commands our eyes to linger. Rand is startling and original in his rich color choices, bold characters, and extraordinarily expressive approach.

The New York Times describes the paintings as “rendered in the style of comics and pulp fiction book jackets, a dash of Mad magazine, a spoonful of Tales of the Crypt, some grotesques, some superheroes, always action, emotion, drama.” Whether grotesque or dramatic, each painting provokes a sense of wonder and self-reflection, making The 613 a book to be visited time and time again. Perfect for readers of art, religion, or popular visual culture, The 613 may be the most audacious and distinctive book of its kind.

Initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni in 2004 for The New York Public Library, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.

The Painted Shul by Amala Lane (2007) via YouTube

In the early 1970’s, artist Archie Rand painted over 8000 square feet of Jewish religious murals in a Sephardic synagogue, B’nai Yosef. Located in the bustling and diverse Ocean Avenue Brooklyn community, the mural’s cacophony of styles ranges from realistic representation to abstract expressionism all of which gave rise to fierce opposition from amongst rabbis and congregants to the paintings. They consider any representation of that which cannot be represented taboo. View it HERE.

Interviews on CUNY TV with Michael Stoler via YouTube

Building New York, a lively conversation hosted by Michael Stoler, New York’s only weekly television broadcast featuring local and national leaders responsible for real estate activities in the Metropolitan region, began its first season on television and on CUNY TV in March 2006.

Read the press release.

The exhibition of The 613 by Archie Rand is organized by the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) of the University of Rochester and Joan Brookbank Projects in collaboration with the artist, Archie Rand. The MAG presentation is made possible through underwriting by the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation. Mr. Rand is the recipient of the 2020 Farash Fellowship for the Advancement of Jewish Humanities and Culture.