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  • Avigdor Arikha


    Art Brokerage: Avigdor Arikha French–Israeli Artist: 1929-2010. Avigdor Arikha was a Romanian-born French–Israeli painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and art historian. Born into a German-speaking Jewish family, Arikha was deported, in 1941, to a Transnistrian concentration camp, where his father died. He survived thanks to sketches he composed on scraps of paper, depicting the horrors of the holocaust. Those were shown to delegates of the Red Cross, who facilitated his and his sister's escape. In 1944, at the age of fifteen Arikha moved to the British Mandate of Palestine. Schooled in Jerusalem mostly by Bauhaus teachers who had escaped Germany, Arikha adopted a modernist approach, mastering multiple skills and mediums in line with Bauhaus principles. He moved to Paris to attend the École des Beaux-Arts, where he settled amongst a community of artists, writers and academics. Although described by Ann Wroe in The Economist as ‘perhaps the best painter from life in the last decades of the 20th century' Arikha was an abstract painter until the mid-Sixties when, encouraged by his great friend Alberto Giacometti, he found renewed passion in representation. In 1956 he met Samuel Beckett, forming a close friendship which was to have a profound impact on his life (his first daughter, Alba, was named after one of Beckett's poems). One day in 1965, after viewing Caravaggio's Raising of Lazarus in the Louvre, Arikha felt ‘a violent hunger in the eyes' and a desire to capture with immediacy the truth of a person or object in that very moment. He subsequently focused on solely figurative, black and white drawing for a period of eight years, prioritizing the act of observation over memory or imagination. In 1973, Arikha began working in colour again. Partly on the basis of fresco techniques he had been taught at the Beaux Arts, he created a medium that made paint dry under his hand, forcing him to complete each work within a single day. He worked only in natural light, painting urgently with no preparatory sketches. Often painting from his top-floor home studio, his subject matter included still-lifes, landscapes, interiors and portraits. The crowded views of Parisian rooftops allowed skillful examination of perspective and light; as with his still-lifes and portraits that captured social life at the apartment and the character of his wife, two daughters and remarkable coterie of friends, including Samuel Beckett, Giacometti and Henri Cartier-Bresson, amongst others. Listings wanted.

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