Gideon Gechtman
1942—2008

December 4, 2013-April 5, 2014
Location: Nathan Cummings Building for Modern and Contemporary Art
Artist:

Gideon Gechtman


Curator: Aya Miron

Gideon Gechtman will not die again. Now, five years after the actual death of the artist who frequently spoke about his impending demise, we look back at the works he conceived and produced during the forty years of his career.

Gechtman was one of the pioneers of Conceptual art during the ’70s and one of the most prominent and innovative creators in Israeli art. He worked with a broad diversity of artistic means and with a marked connection to his disease, to his anticipated death, to bereavement, to memory and principally to the possibility that art works, whose survival potential is “greater than life”, would be a means of perpetuation – a kind of mausoleum designed to preserve the body of his works after his death.

In this retrospective for an artist who held numerous exhibitions but was never honored with a retrospective while he was alive, six installations that Gechtman created during those four decades are displayed together and in their entirety. Gechtman gave artistic treatment to two major unsettling events in his life: one, in the “Exposure” exhibition (1975), re-presented here, in which he related to medical procedures he underwent at age 31 during heart surgery to implant an artificial valve that prolonged his life; the second in the “Yotam” installation (1999), an artistic formulation of the process of the hospitalization and the death of his elder son Yotam at age 26.

When the “Exposure” exhibition closed, Gechtman, then 33, organized the printing of obituary notices in which his family announced his death. He posted the obituary notices on bulletin-boards around his home in downtown Rishon LeZion and had them published in daily newspapers. This was a kind of general rehearsal for his anticipated death, or perhaps an act of projection as a means of managing anxiety. As with many of his works, this action appeared in many artistic embodiments, as part of his trenchant and sometimes chilling research into the connections between life, death and the definitions of the work of art.


Images:

Archive, 2003 (detail)
Mixed media
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, purchase, "Here & Now" Contemporary Israeli Art Acquisitions Committee, Israel
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner 


Brushes (Bat-Sheva and Gideon Gechtman), 1974
Human hair, wood, copper plates and glass
Collection of Bat-Sheva Gechtman and Noam Gechtman
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner

From the work Exposure (1975) at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2013
Mixed media
Collection of Bat-Sheva Gechtman and Noam Gechtman
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner


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