Vive la liberté!

When freedom of expression is muzzled, Art withers and dies. We cannot allow our culture to be terrorized and blackmailed. We must stand together to defend our heritage of freedom and creative expression. In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, France, it is uncannily timely to announce the upcoming interfaith, peace-building art exhibition in which I will be participating and have played the role of co-curator. The exhibition is titled The Bridge (Le Pont) and will open in Paris at the historic Church of Saint Germain des Pres, the oldest church in Paris.

Bridge Poster-Final 040115

I will be traveling to Paris to help set up the show. The exhibition will act as an emissary of peace, traveling from Paris to Brussels, Rome, London, Cairo and the United States for 18 months. I am very honored to have played a key role and to be exhibiting my own painting alongside 46 artists of Arab, Persian and Jewish backgrounds. Below is the image of my painting entitled Narrow Bridge followed by my brief artist’s statement that explains how I found inspiration for this painting in the wise words of a hassidic mystic from the 18th century….

MILGROM Narrow bridge


“The whole world is a narrow bridge.

The main thing to remember is not to be afraid.”

Rabbi Nachman of Bratislav (1772-1810)

Within minutes of being invited to participate in The Bridge exhibition, the words of a popular Hebrew song began playing in my mind: Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tzar me’od, v’haikar lo lefached. (The whole world is a narrow bridge. The main thing to remember is not to be afraid). I was surprised to learn that these words are attributed to the rabbinical sage, Rabbi Nachman of Bratislav, born in Ukraine in the 18th century and the great-grandson of the founder of Hassidism, a mystical branch of Orthodox Judaism.

These few words have survived intact over the centuries yet they capture the essence of this exhibition. If ever there has was a time to reach across cultures, religions, borders and peoples in order to pull the world back from the brink, it is NOW. My painting ‘Narrow Bridge’ is a crude reminder that in order to bridge our differences we must conquer our fears and reach a hand across that narrow bridge without looking down.

Lilianne Milgrom




General Invite Paris -English


The Arts are not created equal

When Edouard Manet unveiled his painting of a reclining nude prostitute in the 1865 Paris salon, the crowds reacted with such hostility and contempt that this one work of art practically incited a riot. Charles Bernheimer writes: “Indeed the bourgeois public took such offense at this apparent affront to its morality that the painting had to be rehung high up out of its retaliatory reach (Manet’s Olympia:The Figuration of Scandal).”Manet Olympia

I have come across a number of works of art that over the centuries have caused widespread displays of public outrage and quite honestly, I long for those days. I try to imagine what it was like to live in a time when the public was so hungry for entertainment and distraction that a work of art that broke with tradition or dared to breach cultural mores would be set upon by a rabid crowd. How passionate! How exciting! What has happened to the power of art? In today’s world, visual art – even with its increasing shock value – simply cannot draw the crowds. But music still can and does.

Take yesterday for example. Upon hearing that violin virtuoso Joshua Bell was putting on a free half-hour concert at Washington DC’s architecturally impressive Union Station, I fought traffic and paid exorbitant parking fees to get myself down to the station. Me and hundreds of other music lovers packed the main hall like sardines to hear the barely audible strains of Bell’s $15 million 300-year-old Stradivarius. This video is as close as I got to the maestro:

Nonetheless it was a beautiful feeling of communal homage to sheer virtuosity. Bell did not need to shock his audience to draw the crowds. I doubt very much that a superb painting of unimaginable beauty executed by one of the world’s most talented artists could ever generate such a frenzy. Why? What does music do to our senses that visual art does not do? Or is it a question of music reaching a larger audience at one time compared to viewing a painting which is a more intimate, solitary undertaking?

These questions seem particularly relevant in the light of my most recent installation work in collaboration with sonic art composer, Juan Sebastian Vassallo. I hope to have it ready for exhibition in the coming months and in the meantime am keen to read your comments and thoughts on music and the visual arts.

PS. The AMEN: A Prayer for the World exhibition will soon be caravan-ing onto New York City.
  NYC AMEN Invitation