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Beloosesky Gallery is interested in purchasing paintings or drawings by Avigdor Arikha. 
Please call (917) 749-4577 or email us at
 info@beloosesky.com.


Avigdor Arikha was an Israeli artist who was born in Romania in 1929.  He survived the Nazi labor camps in Central Europe and was repatriated as an orphan to an Israeli kibbutz in 1944.  He studied art and philosophy in Paris, where he lived with his wife and two children.  Of those who painted from life, Arikha was one of the few who, while not abandoning some older ways of painting, remained tellingly modern.

At the same time, Arikha knew very well, and at first hand, the devouring doubt of this century.  He was a close personal friend of Samuel Becket, whom he had portrayed many times; he knew Giacometti well and once also sketched him.  In short, Arikha bore the curse of knowingness.  He was an intellectual who had not developed the protective blindness that most artists used to shield their own art.  How does such an artist find a space of his own?

It took Arikha a long time.  In the 1950s, like most ambitious artists, he painted abstract pictures, although he also drew from life on the side. In 1965, he stopped painting. He said that he saw his basic 'form' recur in his abstractions and "painting afterward was never a revelation and therefore not interesting."  There followed a difficult period: for eight years he only drew and made prints.

Then, in 1973, he suddenly began to paint again -- this time from life. Painting from life is one way to exorcise the demon of history, with its tyrranical parade of style; it was Arikha's way to get around the "used up" feeling of modernism.  His favorite artists were those who, like Caravaggio, escape the mannerism of their day and turn with fresh conviction to the world.  "Nature is infinite," he said. "It cannot be exhausted.  You cannot put the mark of time on a great portrait." He painted most of his pictures in mad four or five hour spurts.  Critics have sometimes exaggerated his indifference to subject matter -- and like many artists who painted from life, he seemed frightened of being mistaken for an illustrator.
 
Almost no artist used color like Arikha.  He modulated and blended his hues to suggest the weight and density of an object, rather than building his pictures with primary and unmixed colors; his touch and handling of color were very fine.

For art historians, Arikha is a slippery subject.  The odd meeting of styles is part of the force of his work, helping to establish its splendid tension.  By painting each nose differently, he evoked the flux of the world; by seizing each inch of canvas, he suggested how hard it is to hold on to any belief.

Arikha died in Paris in 2010.


SOURCES

Robert Hughes in Time Magazine, May 7, 1973
Mark Stevens, Newsweek, July 2, 1979.
Biography from the Archives of AskART

 

EXHIBITS

In 1998 Arikha had a major retrospective at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (of paintings) and at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (of prints and drawings), which travelled to Edinburgh's Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1999. From July 2006 – January 2007 there was an exhibition at the British Museum of Arikha's bequest to it of one hundred prints and drawings. There was a retrospective of his prints at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 2008. From June to September 2008 the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid hosted another retrospective exhibition of the artist.

 

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

1954
Gold Medal, Triennial for Applied Art, Milan, Italy

1959
Prize, Painters and Sculptors Exhibition, Graduates of Youth Aliyah

1978
Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, France

1987 
Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville Paris, Paris, France

1989
Prix des Arts des Lettres et des Sciences, Fondation du Judaïsme Français, Paris, France

1995
Honorary Professor, National Academy of Fine Arts of China, Hangchow, China

1997
Doctor Honoris Causa of Philosophy, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

2005
Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, Paris, France


EDUCATION

1946–1949
Bezalel, Jerusalem

1949–1951
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France
Fresco, Fresco Studion under Pierre-Henri Ducos de la Haille, France


BOOKS ON ARIKHA

Arikha, by Samuel Beckett, Robert Hughes, André Fermigier(et al.) (Paris: Hermann; London: Thames and Hudson, 1985)Arikha, by Duncan Thomson (London: Phaidon, 1994)
Avigdor Arikha, by Monica Ferrando and Arturo Schwarz (Bergamo: Moretti & Vitali, 2001)
Avigdor Arikha: From Life – Drawings and Prints, 1965–2005, by Stephen Coppel and Duncan Thomson (London: British Museum Press, 2006), published to accompany their 2006–07 exhibition.
Arikha, catalogue of the exhibition at the Thyssen-Borenmisza Collection, Madrid, Ed. Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza 2008.

 

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

The British Museum, London, United Kingdom
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Musée Déchelette, Roanne, France
Tate Gallery, London, England
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
National Portrait Gallery, London, England
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, United States
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Boston
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, Paris, France
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Musée Cantini, Marseille, France
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, United States
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Blankfort Collection, Los Angeles, California, United States
The Jewish Museum, Exxon Corporation Collection, New York, New York, United States
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, United States
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
The Fine Arts Museum, The Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco, California, United States
Det Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg Slot, Hillerød, Denmark
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, United States
Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes, Paris, France
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas, United States