Israel Figurative Arts

By | December 22, 2021

Painting. – The foundation by B. Schatz (1906) of the Bezalel Museum and Academy in Jerusalem is the first real impulse to the art of Israel. The group of painters N. Gutman (1898-1975), R. Rubin (1893-1975), P. Litvi (born in 1894), Israel Paldi (born in 1893) and J. Zaritsky (born in 1891), who united in association, they exhibit regularly since 1923 at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, dominating Israeli painting for a long time, imposing above all a landscape painting with Cézannian, Fauvist and Expressionist intonations.

But the presence in Israel of J. Zaritsky, who since 1940 reached a tenuous and lyrical abstractionism, of M. Janco, the lively exponent of Dadaism and active organizer of the Romanian avant-garde, and of M. Ardon who, a pupil of the Bauhaus, had been in contact with P. Klee, V. Kandinskij, J. Itten, is of great importance for a renewal and enrichment of expressions and an opening towards the most current forms of art. In 1948 Zaritsky and Janco founded the New Horizons group which, with annual exhibitions, highlights the most advanced and promising elements of Israel. The activity of Ein Hod is also very lively, a colony of artists founded by Janco in 1953 in an abandoned village on Mount Carmel. From the Nuovi Orizzonti groupthey include V. Streichman (born in 1906), A. Stematsky (1908), L. Nikel (1918), A. Aroch (1908-1975). Later (1955) the Group of 10 shows a more decisive affirmation of the values ​​of abstractionism; its most significant exponents are still Stematsky, Nikel and Aroch; Above all, Aroch’s work obtains international recognition, especially in his latest production, in which letters and signs are almost always mixed with popular reminiscences and connected by high color values. Alternative to abstractionism in a surrealist direction is given by S. Bak (born in 1932) and Israel Bergner (1920). A return to the motifs of the diaspora and to the mystical tradition of the Hasidim it dates back to the 1960s, but without great artistic importance, with N. Bezem (1924) and S. Baruch (1930). A separate place is occupied by Y. Agam (1928), living in Paris, whose research in the field of op art and whose kinetic works created with metal conjunctions have earned him international fame. Among the graphs we remember T. Beeri (1922) and Y. Griffith (1950), an artist of high technical value depicting visions of desperate and hallucinating reality. Finally, the exhibitions organized by the 10 + Group, founded in 1965 by ten artists born in the Thirties, together with an important exhibition in the Israel museum in Jerusalem (1971), mark the introduction in Israel of environmental art, of Pop art and kinetic art. For Israel culture and traditions, please check

Sculpture. – Even in the sphere of sculpture the constitution of the state found a poor reality. The religious prohibition of the representation of the human figure heavily conditioned the beginnings of an art that wanted to qualify in the context of the new political reality.

Later the Bezalel Academy, with the teaching of Ben Zvi (1904-1952), the kibbutzim commissions, freer from religious obstacles, and, after the war of independence, those of the government and public bodies, also gave impetus to sculpture. A pupil of B. Zvi was Israel Danziger (born in 1916), professor of the Technion Polytechnic of Haifā, who creates environmental sculptures inspired by social and ecological reasons. The works of D. Karavan (born in 1931) are inspired by the Israeli landscape with a serene intonation of secret melancholy, in forms of contained symmetries, sometimes constructed in the key of distant astronomical reminiscences. Between sculpture and architecture, with solutions that anticipate the future and yet linked to the ancestral values ​​of the land on which he insists, is his monument to the Palmach brigade to the South of the city of Beersheba in the Negev desert (1966). Y also makes architectural weaving sculptures. Shemi (Jerusalem Theater). The research of Israel Tumarkin (born in 1933), living in New York, whose work is sometimes realized in powerful surrealist symbolic forms, fits into the abstract vein, almost unknown in Israel until the 1960s. The work of M. Kadishman (born in 1932) is imprinted on a solid and elegant dynamism, with creations with geometric and elementary shapes.

Israel Figurative Arts