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Gallery Talks -7 pm
16.12 | Abel Pann

With exhibition curatorYigal Zalmona
30.12| First Flowers
With exhibition curator Tami Manor Friedman
13.1| Abel Pann
With exhibition curator Yigal Zalmona

Curator: Yigal Zalmona, Chief Curator-at-Large

Abel Pann's biblical scenes reflect a variety of nineteenth-century European. Orientalist attitudes, according to which the East was a violent, barbaric place, but it was also idyllic, romantic, and drenched with sexuality. His representation of the Eastern woman as a sexual object or an uninhibited temptress is also typical of other Bezalel artists. Thus Ze'ev Raban illustrated the Song of Songs with a naked woman in the embrace of a man wearing a Bedouin robe.

Pann followed in the footsteps of a large group of nineteenth-century European artists who took a documentary approach in depicting scenes from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament: they painted as if the events had taken place in the Near East as it was in their own time. And since scientific method was seen as the only way to explain the world, it was also important for the artists of the period to validate even religious scenes, such as the events related in the Bible, by depicting them with as much historical accuracy as possible. That said, there can be little doubt that a very natural attraction to and curiosity about the exotic, the new, and the unfamiliar contributed to the success of this realistic approach in depicting Holy Scripture.

Abel Pann (originally named Abba Pfeffermann) was born in 1883 in the town of Kreslawka in the Vitebsk region of White Russia. His father, Nahum, was a rabbi and the head of a yeshivah, a religious academy, and Pann received a Jewish elementary school education in a heder until he was twelve. He studied the fundamentals of drawing for three months with the painter Yehuda Pen of Vitebsk, who also taught Marc Chagall and Ossip Zadkine. At the age of twelve he began traveling between cities in Russia and Poland, earning a living mainly as an apprentice in sign workshops. Aided by a wealthy matchstick manufacturer, in 1898 he went south to Odessa, where he was accepted by the Academy of Fine Arts.

The Kishinev pogroms, a turning point for the Zionist movement in Eastern Europe, broke out in the spring of 1903. Delegations were dispatched to appraise the destruction and loss of life. Pann also traveled to Kishinev and produced a number of documentary sketches depicting the scenes of devastation he observed there. One of these sketches was later transformed into a large oil painting.
The Day after the Pogrom (Yard in Ruins and Bereaved Family), which Pann submitted for his final examinations at the Academy. The Kishinev drawings were the first installment in an ongoing project of artistic documentation of the fate of the Jews to which Pann (as he himself writes) dedicated his life.


Works from the collections of Itiel Pann or Yael Gahnassia are by courtesy of Itiel Pann and Yael Gahnassia, Mayanot Gallery, Jerusalem.

Curator: Tami Manor Friedman

Shmuel Schlesinger, 1901-1986
Girl with a Flower, 1950s
Oil on canvas
The Open Museum, Industrial Park, Tefen

Early Israeli art, from the Bezalel period at the beginning of the 20th century up to the 1950s, is replete with flowers and vegetation. Floral motifs appear in paintings of landscapes and gardens, botanical sketches, decorative designs, still lifes, and portraits. While inspired by Western artistic traditions, these works drew on the new Zionist culture and the ideals of tilling the land, fulfilling the vision of national regeneration, and making the desert bloom. The development of botanical research and the study of the wealth of flora and fauna in the old-new homeland were also associated with these ideals.

Today too, Israeli artists engage with floral motifs, conducting a dialogue with their precursors. Some of them express a sense of longing for the innocent world of their childhood - for the lessons on natural history, camping trips, dried-flower albums, and naive drawings. Others cast a critical eye on the subject, depicting a reality rife with contradictions: between florescence and war, beauty and destruction, nature and culture.

The exhibition addresses these subjects and glances beyond their expression in the fine arts to poetry and children's literature, scientific research, public sector graphic design, and popular art.


Curator: Nissan Perez, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Curator of Photography

The first Jewish camera practitioners resident in the Land of Israel were all members of the early waves of immigration that originated for the most part in Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Consequently, the first photographs taken in Palestine documented the Jewish presence in the country tightly connected to the people's biblical and historical roots in their ancestral homeland, and to their age-old yearning to return to the Land of Israel. These early photographers were later joined by colleagues from Germany, whose arrival coincided with the rapid growth of the Yishuv, the modern Zionist settlement in Palestine prior to 1948.

At this very moment in the history of the emerging state, photography became the tool for the creation and perpetuation of a myth and a national history in the making through visual representations of the reality. By its very nature, photography has the power to document, but it was also instrumental in the creation of a collective consciousness and memory not devoid of biases which, at that moment in time, were indispensable. It is to these photographers' credit that they combined truth and fiction with great skill, conveying ideas and sentiments that would serve the national cause.

While these photographs mostly charted the renewal of the Jewish presence in the ancestral land and the achievements of the settlers, they also paid special attention to portraying the pioneers in relation to the land, the environment, and the new settlements, which were a source of great pride. This was the beginning of the heroic era in Israeli history, a very demanding yet romantic period when individuals or small groups of people were responsible for endeavors of national consequence. The photographs in this exhibition are only a few visual documents chronicling the pioneers who laid the foundations of a comprehensive social and economic infrastructure, developed agriculture, established unique communal forms of rural settlement, and provided the labor force to build roads and housing.

In addition, these photographs mark the dramatic transition from objective tourist photography to subjectively involved photography in the Holy Land, the moment when the mental attitude, focus of attention, and the intention and motivation of the photographers underwent a drastic change. When considered in the right local, social, and historical contexts, these images were and still remain extremely powerful and evocative, often not even requiring a caption.

Most of the photographs in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of the Israel Museum. We are grateful to Alain and Evelyn Roth, Herzliya, for their support and for the loan of several important photographs from their collection.

למאגר התערוכות , מוזיאון ישראל | מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים | כל הזכויות שמורות © מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים 1995-
To The Israel Museum Exhibition Online | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem | Copyright © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1995-