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Swing of the Scythe Sculpture

Swing of the Scythe Sculpture

Israeli, born 1947

Swing of the Scythe Sculpture

Lacquered iron

100 x 250 x 300 cm

Accession number:


Arts/Israel Art

The scythe is associated with Efrat Natan’s childhood memories from the kibbutz where she grew up, as well as with the Israeli myth of the pioneer, the hero of the Zionist revolution. Indeed, in many early posters and photographs, the larger-than-life figure of the pioneer is shown energetically swinging a scythe. Like the hammer and sickle, this agricultural imagery symbolized the socialist dream of building a perfect world.

The circular movement in the sculpture brings to mind a rousing hora dance. The hora, which drew the pioneers into a tight circle, expressed the productive and creative power of the group. But the image also contains an element of violence. The sharpened scythe may be an instrument of carnage, perhaps suggesting the medieval legend of the danse macabre in which the doomed are led to the grave by a scythe-bearing Angel of Death, the Grim Reaper. These connotations remind us of the potential for violence and destruction inherent in any idealistic society or utopian vision.

From the Israel Museum publications:

Kamien-Kazhdan, Adina (ed.), Modernism in Dialogue: 20th-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Israel Museum, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2010

Zalmona, Yigal, 100 Years of Israeli Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2010

Coen-Uzzielli, Tania, A Brief History of Humankind: The Exhibition, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2015

Efrat Natan: Whitewash and Tar, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2016


Second Show: Contemporary Art from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Mani House, Tel Aviv, 31/05/2009 - 21/11/2009
Permanent Exhibition: Israeli Art, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 25/07/2010 - 10/05/2015
A Brief History of Humankind, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 01/05/2015 - 02/01/2016
Efrat Natan: Whitewash and Tar, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 19/04/2016 - 29/10/2016