Los Angeles

“Treasures of Israel”

Lytton Center of the Visual Arts

A remarkable compendium of Judaic art forms, spanning the centuries from a major fragment of the historic Dead Sea Scrolls and priceless antiquities of Biblical times, to the dramatic contrast of contemporary Israeli fine arts and crafts.

Among the many archeological items of great historical value are treasures from the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1500 B.C.) and the Herouian Period—including a stone tomb-door (2nd–3rd Century A.D.). Also on loan from the Antiquities Museum in Jerusalem are two large, well preserved fragments of mosaic flooring from Beit Shean Monastery of Our Lady Mary (2nd Century A.D.).

A main feature of the display is the first fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls ever unearthed. The fragment is part of the Thanksgiving Hymn and is being presented together with an Israeli Government-authorized replica of the Isaiah Scroll.

Selected from the Bezalel National Museum in Jerusalem are paintings representing styles of works by contemporary Israeli artists who have come from Rumania, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Bulgaria, England, Argentina, Syria and Lithuania as artist-immigrants to establish studios and workshops in Israel. These include Ardon, Castel, Janco, Meirovitz, Mokadi, Rubin, Stematzki, Tamir and Tumarkin.

Many of their paintings reflect strong abstract European impressionistic tendencies in style, although some are returning to ancient Judaic sources for further enrichment of contemporary art forms, thus evolving a more meaningful personal idiom.

Finely crafted articles on exhibition have been shipped from three principal sources—The Israel Export Institute, Maskit, and the Artist’s Village of Ein Hod, which was founded by artist Marcel Janco, who in 1953, with a group of twenty visionary but adamant artists began the herculean task of restoring the ruined Arab village. Today, artists from all over the world are contributing their talent and skill to augment Ein Hod’s resident instructors. Among these are Marc Chagall, Jean Arp, Rufino Tamayo and many others.

On view in the crafts division is a ceramic plaque designed by Jean Arp while visiting Ein Hod, and executed by Aviva Margalit, who is also showing several fine ceramic wall paintings. A representative collection of contemporary Israel’s contribution to the crafts includes enamels, jewelry, leather-work, ceramics, handwoven textiles, rugs and batik hangings. Of museum quality is the display of hand-blown glass, contemporary in design, but created with ancient techniques—showing an extraordinarily successful combination of old surface textures on modern shapes. Created by Ariel Bartal, the display is from The Israel Export Institute.

The large color transparencies of Marc Chagall’s stained glass Jerusalem Windows, commissioned for the Synagogue of the Hadassah, Hebrew Medical Center, are of special interest to lovers of Chagall’s visionary and happy works. He painted the over-all composition first, then drew in black lines indicating leaded areas instead of using the contemporary method in stained glass cartoons of creating an architectonic structural outline, later to be filled with arbitrary design.

Although Treasures of Israel—The Holy Land, comprises innumerable objects from widely divergent elements in time, this exhibition is a remarkable affirmation of a people’s spiritual and cultural survival through the centuries.

Betje Howell