This informative and heavily illustrated book is not so much about places where artists have applied principles of Kabbalah—the Jewish mystical interpretation of the universe—but where Alexander Gorlin takes readers to find them. Gorlin, a New York architect and author, uses Kabbalah as a lens for “re-reading . . . art and architecture,” much as critics might interpret art through the filters of class, race, gender, or the Holocaust. The book stems from his fascination with the Kabbalistic idea of genesis expressed as light, space, and geometry, which he sees in many works of modern architecture, sculpture, and painting.
Gorlin clearly describes many of Kabbalah's themes in a manner that speaks to artists and architects. The mystical tradition is concerned with the unseen, but Gorlin focuses mostly on concepts that are expressed in terms of color, light, form, and other visual elements. He uses a language of art and architecture that readers can readily understand—even when we might be surprised to find Kabbalistic references (or echoes) in works we think we know well. Sometimes Gorlin's associations suggest deeper meaning in buildings; at other times his thoughts on buildings clarify Kabbalah obscurities. Many of the works in the book were not intended to be imbued with Jewish mysticism but rely on other mathematical, philosophical, spiritual, aesthetic, and scientific systems. The author maintains, however, that these works embody the essence of Kabbalah, too.