Hommage à l'Écriture
Hommage à l'Écriture; Alphabet Hébreu Précédé d’un Texte Extrait du Zohar et Suivi de Notes du Graveur.
Paris: Chez A. Krol, 1954. (12165)
Signed by the artist below the colophon. Numbered 86 in an edition of ninety-nine. The Levi A. Olan Collection at Bridwell Library.
The Sefer ha-Zohar is a thirteenth century Jewish Gnostic text compiled by the Spaniard Moses de León (1250–1305). Set as a teaching dialogue of Rabbi Simeon ben Yoḥai (c. 100–160 CE) with his disciples, the Zohar is a commentary on the Torah and reveals otherwise concealed aspects of Creation. The sixth chapter of the Zohar gives an account of the twenty-two preexistent letters of the Hebrew alphabet who approach the Creator one by one, each pleading their cases as appropriate conduits for the making of all things. The second letter, Bet, was chosen, but all letters were used according to their strengths to create all that was and will be.
Displayed is Abram Krol’s engraving of Bet, the first letter of the Torah, the Bet of Brachah (Blessing), the Bet of Bereshit (Beginning). The personified Bet, or more accurately Vet as the distinguishing dagesh is missing, stands in a surrealistic vision circumscribed by acentric rings illuminated by the moon and the sun in duality. The shell of a tree devoid of life anchors a lower realm from which a finned, but perhaps scaleless, fish flees. Sheltered within the letter are a cat, a gazelle wearing a locust or cricket carapace, lamp flames, and an assortment of Hebrew zoomorphic characters.
Abram Krol (1919–2001) traveled from his native Poland to Caen in northwestern France to study civil engineering. He joined the Foreign Legion at the outbreak of World War II, and settled in Avignon working as an automobile mechanic following his tour of duty. In 1943 Krol enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts d'Avignon to focus on sculpture. He left Avignon for Paris and in 1946 began to study engraving. His first exhibition was that same year in Paris. In addition to providing art for twenty published books, Krol prepared medals for the Paris mint, painted murals for public schools, painted enamels, and designed tapestries.