Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo

Event has passed (Thu Jul 26, 2018 - Sun Nov 18, 2018)
Contemporary Jewish Museum
July 26-Nov 18, 11am-5pm
Art, Museums


July 26-Nov 18, 11am-5pm

In a new, original exhibition, The Contemporary Jewish Museum examines the work of "Lew the Jew" Alberts (born Albert Morton Kurzman, 1880-1954), one of America's most influential tattoo artists at the beginning of the twentieth century. The exhibition, drawn from the collection of San Francisco artist, author, and tattoo legend Don Ed Hardy, includes never before exhibited original tattoo artwork, photographs, and correspondence between Lew and San Francisco tattooists "Brooklyn Joe" Lieber and C.J. "Pop" Eddy.

Alberts, the son of two Jewish immigrants living in New York, learned tattooing as a member of the armed forces overseas during the Spanish-American War and was the original creator of what is now known as tattoo flash-the samples used in tattoo shops.

Alberts was in the close-knit group of the most prominent American tattoo artists of the first quarter of the twentieth century, who stayed in close communication despite being spread across the country. This correspondence, containing iconic examples of American flash, is a significant early record of tattoo history that shows how these artists influenced each other's styles and how this American folk-art form was collaboratively brought into being during its earliest years.


  1. Contemporary Jewish Museum 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA