1893 - 1974
Born in Romania in 1893 Rubin is known as a leading prominent Israeli artist to this day.
At age 19 he came to the then Palestine and began his studies at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem.
Less than a year later he left for Paris and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but had to leave France when the First World War broke out. He whiled the years of the war in his native Romania and then traveled to New York in 1921 where he had an exhibition sponsored by Alfred Stieglitz. Following his return to Europe, in 1923 he returned to Palestine to become one of the founding fathers of Israeli art.
Rubin’s early paintings from the 1920s’ seem to portray the “Zionist dream”, indeed, an idealized perception of the Jewish return to the historical homeland. He eagerly depicted the natural sights and the diversified human landscape of the land – traditional devout Jews, secular pioneers and Arabs – his bright vivid colors reflecting the Mediterranean sunlight and bypassing the tensions following the Arab riots at the end of that decade, the awareness to which came only later.
Rubin’s style was naïve, inspired by European modernism (most particularly the French Henri Rousseau comes to mind but also Derain and Matisse) and reflecting a child-like enthusiasm vis-à-vis the new life forming around. The local flora and fauna, so often incorporated into his compositions of landscapes and portraits alike, are not merely decorative but rather they symbolize renewal, growth, harmony and above all that newcomer’s quest to instantly feel rooted in the new environment.
Rubin’s depictions of Tel Aviv growing on the sand dunes, his panoramic landscapes of Jerusalem, his numerous depictions of the road to Safed, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, became his trademark. His depictions of the Judean hills and the silvery-green Galilean olive groves became gradually more ethereal, immersed in a mystical atmosphere.
In 1973 he was awarded the Israel Prize for his lifetime achievement in art. His paintings hang in the Knesset Building, in the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem, at the Prime Minister’s Residence and offices, in leading Israeli museums and in public and private collections in Israel and abroad.
In 1983 The Rubin Museum opened to the public in Rubin’s former family home in Tel Aviv, showcasing his art in particular and Israeli art in general.