Jewish Culture News
Israeli Artists/U.S. Collectors
Amy StoneFall 2004
When Reuven Rubin’s dreamy 1920s landscapes of pre-State Israel come up for sale, the works go for $200,000-$300,000. But when it comes to contemporary Israeli artists, religion and politics can slow down collectors. A breakthrough occurred this past November when four friends and serious collectors – Andy (Andrea) and Charles Bronfman and Dale and Doug Anderson – brought the work of 10 Israeli artists to Chicago’s renowned SOFA, the International Exposition of Sculpture Objects and Functional Art. They also brought many of the artists, as Dough Anderson says, “Because we wanted American to look at Israelis as artists, not as warriors.”
They named their venture AIDA, Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts (http:/www.aidaarts.org). Their SOFA Special Exhibit of ceramics, porcelain, fiber collage and jewelry sold, and nine of the 10 artists were signed up by major American galleries. Anita Wornick, an NFJC board member and AIDA supporter, says the Bronfman-Anderson do-it-yourself effort has been “supported nationally by people who want to see Israeli artists shown in the U.S.” In fact, AIDA will be back in Chicago this November, with AIDA selecting artists living and working in Israel with assistance from professionals at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Racine Art Museum, Sotheby’s Israel, and the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. In January, an AIDA spin-off will be in London at COLLECT 2005, The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects.
When it comes to paintings, curators and gallery owners may shy away from Israeli artists although they are part of the global art world. The way artist, writer and curator Cheryl Kaplan sees it, “The more aggressively the art world is exposed to Israeli art, the less Israeli art will be marginalized. A focused plan should include an international dialogue and debate between Israeli artists, curators, and dealers and their counterparts in Europe, the Sates and the rest of the world.”
This past Spring, Sotheby’s increased visibility with Israeli Art Week in New York. Along with special events, a number of New York galleries showed Israeli artists at the same time as Sotheby’s annual auction of Israeli art. The showcasing was similar to Sotheby’s enterprise 20 years ago to build the market for Latin American artists.
One of the unexpected results of Israeli Art Week was the opening of the only New York gallery concentrating on contemporary Israeli photography. In fact, the Andrea Meislin Gallery in trendy Chelsea may prove that photography is the Israeli art form that’s not “too Jewish” for collectors to live with. (See cover). The way Meislin puts it, “Photography is a cooler contemporary art form. It’s in a different realm from a Chagall-like oil painting of a wedding scene. It’s a contemporary hip picture that happens to be about Israel.”