The 1920s are still considered the ‘golden age’ of Israeli art. The works of the artists of Eretz Israel simulated the formation of Hebrew and Zionist culture in Eretz Israel on the foundations of the Jewish past, but at the same time came in an idealistic-optimistic way using symbolism and utopian colors. The combination of beauty and romance in the works in these years combined with the rarity of works preserved from this period, made the works of these years the desire of every local art collector and accordingly the prices of works from the 20s are significantly higher than the prices of later works.
The national poet, Haim Nachman Bialik, wrote in 1926 that the Land of Israel in Reuven Rubin’s paintings looks like a kind of “midrash of legend”: “This is how the land was revealed to us and sealed in our blood and minds from childhood. – Here and there we carried the same bundle in the bundles of our souls hidden when we came here … because Hebrew art, like the Hebrew epic, if it has hope – its root will necessarily lie in our past legend. From this past you will grow and deepen within it to ask for suction. Without it, it has taken root like a mac and blossomed like dust. ”
This period is known for the momentum of the third and fourth aliyah, but especially the fourth aliyah in the years 1931-1924 brought a new, educated and modern bourgeois stratum and the European influence was well evident in the local painting. During these years, many artists settled in the city of Tel Aviv and were pioneers of the Eretz-Israeli style, including Reuven Rubin, Nahum Gutman, Ziona Tager, Israel Paldi, and more. In the first Hebrew city an urban culture and cultural infrastructure grew and the optimism of the new settlers entered into the canvases of those artists.
The artists adopted for themselves an innocent and primitive vantage point that relied on sources in the ancient East. For the new immigrants, the East was the source of the sacred, a historical memory that they recognized through Bible stories, and thus immigration to Eretz Israel was perceived as a rebirth. The artists developed the Eretz Israel narrative and shaped their new pictorial language as local landscapes, flora and fauna took center stage alongside human figures. Thus the artists sought to express in their paintings the reality in the new environment, using the figures of the Arab neighbors in Jaffa, Jerusalem and the Galilee, combining the local animals; donkeys, camels and horses, as an expression of the same rooted sense of locality. Their naive works combined symbols and metaphors.
The artists depicted the Mediterranean light in an almost spiritual way, a sign of merging with nature and a new awakening. As Carmela Rubin wrote in the book Reuven Rubin, A Dream Place: “This perfectly matched the intensity of the encounter with the realities of pioneering life and the primacy of discovering local sights: the dazzling Mediterranean light, the ancient and exotic” East “, the organic rural environment in stark contrast to the decadent urban urban environment. In Eastern Europe, or in contrast to Western volumes such as Paris or New York. ”
Even today, Reuven Rubin is one of the most important and leading artists in Israel. Most of his paintings from the 1920s are on display at the Tel Aviv Museum and the Israel Museum, and a respectable number of paintings are in the important art collection of the Phoenix Insurance Company. Robin did a lot of painting the Arab natives, and many of his figures were described as muscular, brown and large as a symbol of farming in the sun. Other prominent themes of Robin are plants and flowers, as a symbol of tendency and renewal, local animals and colorful landscapes of Jaffa, Jerusalem and the Galilee.
Nahum Gutman grew up in Jaffa and often depicts Jaffa and Neve Tzedek in his paintings from the 1920s. The area was saturated with orchards that mostly belonged to the Arab natives and therefore these orchards symbolized in Guttman mystery and attraction. Guttman often portrays the Jewish and Arab residents in cafes, on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jaffa in optimistic colors, but you can also see in his paintings the attraction to the East that is expressed in hints of passion and sexuality.
Ziona Tager is one of the pioneers of modern painting in the Land of Israel. Tager’s work in the 1920s carries many influences, on the one hand the universality and appeal to European art and modern currents, and on the other hand the preoccupation with roots, landscape and locality in the Mediterranean country.
Other prominent artists from the period are Israel Paldi, Arie Lubin, Pinchas Litvinovsky, Arie Alvail and more. The group of artists she created during this period in the Land of Israel had character and imagination in their works, but each of them created individually. The artists of the period fell in love with the new land and expressed their admiration for it through art by describing its landscapes, its renewal, growth and fertility.
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1920s in Israeli art