The Awakening of Modern Art in Israel
Until the 20’s, Jerusalem was the center of Israeli art. Castle “Tower of David” was the focus of the event in 1921, 1924 and 1925. At the Castle were used to roundup of group exhibitions at the time of first-class artists in the country. These exhibitions marked the beginning of the awakening of the new art in the country. When the city of Tel Aviv began to take its place as the center of cultural artistic scene in the country, artists flocked to the city from the hills of Jerusalem and began to implant the new coastal plain.
New art centers were opened in the country. “The painting studio from Tel Aviv Workers Council “, the fruit of the efforts of the painter Isaac Frankel, opened its doors with the spirit of the French avant-garde style which he adopted during his studies in France. The studio operated until 1929 in Tel Aviv.
“Ohel” Theater (originally is called the “dramatic studio at the Culture Committee”) established by director Moshe Halevi, who wanted to build a proletarian theater and fulfilled his wish by using theater as “Ohel” founded in 1925 and managed. Moshe Levy aspired to take an integral part in creating meaningful art in Israel, and the hut erected on Hayarkon Street, on a hill in front of the blue sea, was a group show – “Modern Artists Exhibition” which sought to bring art to all working people.
The day of exhibition’s opening (January 14th, 1926), was a celebration day for this artists group in which their creed was distributed as a part of the printed exhibition catalog. Shlonski defined it well when he said in his rebellious way that the “Tent” is the synagogue of the Israeli art. “A new synagogue… instead of god we will stand…” he noted. The role of organizing the exhibitions in the “Tent” was assigned to the actor Yehuda Gabai.
In the first exhibition, in 1926, 20 sketches were presented, 6 copper works, 10 water color paintings and 39 oil paintings created by 11 artists: Guttman, Reuven, Lubin, Eliyahu Neeman, Shemi, Frenkel, Feldi, Livinovski, Yona Shecter, Tzyona Tajr and Zeritzki.
In 1927, the second exhibition was performed in which 53 pieces in water colors and oil were presented alongside sketches and sculptures of Nahum Guttman and Hanna Orelof. Almost all artists from the first exhibition participated in the second one: Guttman, Reuven, Lubin, Shemi, Frenkel, Feldi, Livinovski, Tzyona Tajr and Zeritzki (except for Eliyahu Neeman and Yona Shecter) and others joined: Persman, Bugrashov, Mosie David Navot, Eloeil, Sapoznikov (Elhanani) and Hanna Orelof.
In the third exhibition, in 1928, included Guttman, Zeritzki, Litvinovski, Lubin, Feldi, Frenkel, Shemi, Tziona Tajar, Mosie, Bugrashov and the sculpture Melnikov. The exhibition presented 52 pieces in oil, water colors and gouache, as well as sketches, wood work, and two sculptures.
Tribute to Art in the 20’s in Israel
The attempt to trace the influences who led the exhibition artists to their creations as written on an article by Dr. Gila Ballas published in the catalog of the exhibition “Art in Israel in twenties” in 1982 (Tel Aviv Museum), sixty years after the first “Tent” exhibition. The exhibition served as a tribute to those artists, the first generation of the new art in the country, sought out a way unique art of the land of Israel.
Ballas argued that the painters of that period were fed from the Russian avant-garde painting, cubism, futurism and constructivism defined as modernism in that period. Though she argues that local artists have created, despite these influences, a unique modern breeze introducing Israel reality as seen in their eyes through art. Therefore, the art presented, even if it was designed in the spirit of Cubism, showed no analytical Cubism can be found in the works of Picasso, for example, it has introduced narrative works without putting aside the subject of the work or the description of reality as they perceived it.
Some works left a strong impression on viewers and critics:
“Connection without objects” of the artist Yitzhak Frenkel. Both works were lost over the years, possibly as he wishes.
Compositions of objects Forrest style by Lubin who amazed with work with the spirit of Orientalism as so Gutman, Robin and steely.
“Portrait Gnessin”, the creation of Litvinovsky which used Kobo-futuristic elements on a realistic design and creation “bride and groom” served a Russian avant-garde aroma while using geometric surfaces served as a complete system with strong contrasts are expressed in colors.
The exhibition also demonstrated Menachem Shemis’ desire for a Sizan spirit, simple and clean composition. He tried his strength in simplicity and clarity of form attached in a logical connection that makes sense, as he put it.
Ziona Tager was affected by Andre Lott, the teacher with whom she studied in Paris and the painter Dern. It was evident in her works she attempted to use the underlying geometry and rendering three-dimensional realism in the description.
As noted, schools that applied in the Diaspora still gripped the country’s painters in general, and reflected in their paintings. Same was in “Ohel” exhibits that were mentioned, which felt the impact of the Jewish School of Paris artists. Yitzhak Frankel was responsible for this French Expressionist fragrance introduced his students to the studio that he founded.
In the 20’s painters of the second generation of Israeli art were traveling to France and returned equipped with tools that characterized the Paris School. It took place of pride in Israeli art until the end of the 40’s. Painters moved away from the narrative concept that was accustom in the country, and chose to emphasize artistic values such as color who consciously fizzled early 20’s.
As mentioned above, the exhibition “Israel 20’s Art” in 1982, sixty years after the exhibition “Tent” was a tribute to those first artists from the first generation of the new art in the country, sought out a way unique art of the Land of Israel.
Collection: Jacob Shmuel.