Nachum Gutman

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About: Nachum Gutman

Nachum Gutman is one of the most important artist, illustrator and children's book author in the history of Israel, Israel prize winner for children's literature. Born in 1878 in Serbia, he immigrated to Israel at the age of 7 with his family and spent his childhood years in Jaffa and Neve Tsedek, places that highly influenced his art work. At the age of 15 he began studying art in school and then in Bezalel in Jerusalem. After WWI he travelled to Europe and lived in Vienna, Paris, Rome and Berlin. In 1926 he returned to Israel and resided in Tel Aviv, and together with Reuven Rubin, Tsion Tajar and Israel Paldi, was considered among the pioneers of the Israeli style. Most of the artists in the 1920's portrayed and ideal relationship between Jews and Arabs: sitting in cafes, riding in the vineyards and resting and having a picnic. Gutman, who grew up in Jaffa frequently painted the orchards of Neve Tsedek. The orchards at that time were mainly owned by Arabs and symbolized the East which Gutman was drawn to and curious about. His attraction to the East was portrayed with insinuations of power, passion and sexuality in his paintings from the 1920's. Gidon Ofrat: "in 1926 the land of Israel had already known the falling of Trumpeldor and his peers, the murder of Brenner and the assassinations in Tel Aviv. But Gutman, similarly to other Israeli artists of the time, refused to see the Arbs as enemies and even more so, on the contrary – they idealized and elevated them in their paintings. Enter the pogroms of Tarpat. Until that catastrophe in Hebron and other cities – the celebration of Arabs did not come to an end in local art and especially in Gutman's paintings. In the 1930's, Gutman and other local artists frequented Paris and the naïve-orientalist style came to its end. Color tones became dark and the Israeli landscape turned a French grey and other dark colors like the art of Cezanne and Matisse. In the 1950's Gutman painted many depictions of the promenade in Tiberias, with its fishermen and locals, the landscape became blue and the motif of ships repeated in his paintings. Even in later years, Gutman would fondly reminisce the good old days in Jaffa, Neve Tsedek and Tel Aviv. Jaffa again became harmonious and friendly: depictions of horsemen and carriages in the streets, friendly watermelon vendors and bright and colorful tones depict the nostalgic legend. Gutman wrote and illustrated dozens of books, won the Dizengoff prize for painting in 1938, beloved citizen of Tel Aviv (1976), and Israel prize for children's literature in 1978. In the 1950's his paintings were exhibited in major museums around the world. He also painted murals and created mosaics which adorn the city of Tel Aviv. Gutman, who died at the age of 82 was one of the most prominent and loved Israeli artist.
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