In the years 1920-1930, the tower of David was decorated with exhibitions of Israeli artists. They chose to bring with them new spirit to the halls of creation that existed before those years. The Tower of David period, this was the name of the decade in which Israeli art found home in the exhibitions presented in this Jerusalem based structure.
What was different in that decade and who were the leaders of the phenomenon?
The artistic style that was mostly prominent on the exhibition shelves and walls in the early years of the 20th century was homogenous. This style began to make way for other styles (even opposite ones) that expressed the perspectives of the local artists on the Israeli reality (artistic, social and political) and the reality beyond it.
Up until that time, Bezalel, the first art school in Israel, had the leading, and the artistic motives it integrated in the Israeli art scene were influences by the Art Nouveau (art movement that mainly touched elements from the world of plants and animals). As opposed to it, young artist began to create art that was influenced by Modernism (artistic style that presented reality as real photo). The rebellious spirit began to make its first mark.
In 1921, the exhibitions in the Tower of David were opened and served as a sign for the future: the young artists dreamed to establish an art center in Israel that reflects the activity in the country, and receives inspiration from the modern art perspective that came from Europe, from representation of Jewish historic events and craft movement, meaning art with practical use.
Those who especially stood out were the Association of Hebrew Artist (Shmuel Levi, Meir Gur Arie, Shmuel Ben David, Abraham Melnikov and Abel Pen) that presented exhibitions in the Tower of David as well and claimed for a significant expression of Hebrew spirit in art. Their creations showed the influence of the Post Impressionism (art that expressed personal emotional need) and Expressionism (art that depicts the world objectively as it is), those contradictions were expressed in their works.
In 1924, Reuven Rubin’s exhibition was displayed, one of the most significant exhibitions in the Tower of David, that showed the Israeli spirit as he perceived it. The Israeli roots that poured out of his brush line touched the young artists that more and more noticed the gap between the artistic inclination of Bezalel School to the art as it is expressed in universal movements and Israeli art as they see it.
And indeed, towards the end of the 20’s, the values of the school weren’t relevant anymore to the ideological and political Israeli activity, and the school closed its gated in 1929. The generation of the rebellious artists took further the new spirit that saw the Hebrew culture as a central element that needs to be empowered (the school renewed its activity after several years and changed its name to The New Bezalel).
There is no doubt that the exhibitions in the Tower of David were a turning point in the growth process of Israeli art that began to have an affair of colors and lines with the countries scenery and culture.