Avigdor Arikha (Israeli, born Romania, 1929–2010)
Sheet: 17 1/2 x 13 1/8 in. (44.5 x 33.3 cm); plate: 10 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (27.3 x 24.1 cm)
Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1996 (1996.343)
Avigdor Arikha was born in Romania in 1929 and moved to Palestine in 1944. He studied art at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. A highly skilled draftsman, Arikha first gained recognition in the 1950s for his illustrations. After producing abstract paintings from 1957 to 1965, he broke with abstraction in the mid-1960s to devote himself entirely to working from life. In doing so, Arikha became part of a growing trend among Israeli artists to develop more individual styles in reaction to the dominant mode of lyrical abstraction. Intent on being truthful to the subject, Arikha works only from direct observation and completes each piece in a single session. Underlying his work is an intense spirituality conveying the intimacy and truth found in fleeting moments of experience. Here the artist depicts himself with mouth open, as if caught in mid-sentence. His dynamic rendering of modest subjects evokes a deep awareness of beauty in everyday surroundings. A prominent artist of his generation, Arikha considers himself a postabstract figurative painter.