The cultural heritage of ethnic minorities is an integral part of a country's national culture. Due to the focus on the history and culture of the dominant national ethos,the significance of the role of ethnic minorities in contributing to national histories and cultures has been forgotten in many Eastern European countries. Today, largely on the initiative of Jewish-born authors, Eastern European Judaica is being studied all over the world-although it will take many years to fill in all the gaps pertaining to its history and culture. Because studies on the development of the Eastern European Jewish fine arts are scant, each and every research work in this field represents an important contribution towards revealing the multi-cultural character of multi-national Eastern European life.
Although it constitutes an important part of the research into the development of Lithuanian art and different aspects of Jewish art, Jewish artistic life in the interwar period in Lithuania still awaits a more comprehensive study. Many young Jewish artists who later gained international recognition-such as Neemiya Arbit Blatt,1 Max Band, ale Beker, Isaiah Kulwiansky, Esther Lurie, Jacob Lipshitz, Josef Shlesinger,Nolik Shmidt and others-were born, grew up, received an education, and reached maturity in Lithuania.
This article hopes to expand our knowledge of the artistic life of interwar Lithuania by examining the activities of Jewish artistic life during this period. It represents an attempt to provide a chronological overview of the first exhibitions of Jewish artists, concentrating particularly on the influence these exerted on the formation of the artistic preferences of Lithuanian artists, art critics, and public.The reconstruction of Jewish artistic life is based on publications from Lithuanian interwar periodicals published in Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish.2 Special attention is given in this study to exhibition catalogs, which contain both information on the exhibitions and reproductions of the works displayed.