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Annual sale of Israeli & International Art at Sotheby's New York announced for December
Reuven Rubin, Jerusalem Seen From Mt. Scopus, signed Rubin and signed in Hebrew (lower left), oil on canvas. Painted in 1927. 28 by 36 in. 71.1 by 91.4 cm. Est. $300/500,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s annual sale of Israeli & International Art in New York on 19 December 2012 features a wide ranging selection of classic and contemporary Israeli art spanning over 100 years. The auction will be led by a group of works by celebrated artist Reuven Rubin, including the magnificent landscape of Jerusalem Seen from Mt. Scopus from 1927 (est. $300/500,000*). The sale will also feature a series of drawings by famed Polish artist and writer Bruno Schulz, and an important portrait by Chaïm Soutine painted right after the end of World War I. Additional artists whose works will be included in the sale are Yaacov Agam and Mordecai Ardon, as well as contemporary artists including Ori Reisman, Adi Nes, and Michal Rovner. The works in the auction will be exhibited in our York Avenue galleries beginning on 14 December, alongside the exhibition for the sale of Important Judaica.

Reuven Rubin’s Jerusalem Seen from Mt. Scopus, coming to sale from a Private New York Collector, leads the group of works on offer by the artist and is one of the most important views of Jerusalem to appear at auction (est. $300/500,000). The canvas was painted circa 1927 and was included with four other Jerusalem views from various periods in the important 1998 exhibition of the artist’s works at the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv. The painting exemplifies Rubin’s fascination with the Holy City, always painted from afar, as if the artist stands back with awe and reverence.

A 1920 rare and important Self Portrait by Reuven Rubin is also on offer, having been held in the same private collection since the early 1920’s. The self-portrait (est. $200/300,000) was painted in Romania during the years following World War I and was sent to America for Rubin’s first exhibition in New York. Melancholy is intertwined with symbolism in the self-portrait, and Rubin displays expressive body language and emotional intensity both in the artist’s lone silhouette as well as in the depictions of the women behind him. Another pronounced element in the composition is the sitter’s right hand whose elongated fingers recall the compositions of the Viennese Expressionists, particularly the work of Egon Schiele. Also from the same private collection, Rubin’s Portrait of Mr. Isadore Heiger was painted in New York in 1922 during his first trip to America (est. $50/70,000). It is thought that Rubin stored his paintings and sculptures for safekeeping in the vault of Mr. Heiger’s Romanian bank, until he arrived in New York ahead of his exhibition.

Chaïm Soutine’s Jeune Homme Obliquement Étendu was painted circa 1921-22 during his stay in Céret, in Southern France near the Spanish border (est. $500/700,000). In Céret, the artist’s early style reached its height, seen in the present work’s highly charged composition and skillful brushwork. The painting recalls the war-weary survivors of World War I and symbolizes the physical and emotional pains of war. This canvas also anticipates Soutine’s studies of animal carcasses which he would commence in the mid-1920s.

The sale also features a series of drawings by famed Polish artist and writer Bruno Schulz. Following the 1933 publication of his novel The Street of Crocodiles, he became known as one of the most important avant-garde Polish authors and throughout the 1930’s, his graphic work attracted critical fame as well. The present illustrations all come from the Schulz Family Collection. The drawings, including Bianca with her Father in the Carriage (est. $15/20,000) and Schoolgirls Taking a Walk (est. $12/18,000) show the influence of Schulz’s brief stay in Vienna after World War I and the artistic climate of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. These rare drawings appear at auction at a particularly exciting time. 2012 marks the 120th anniversary of Schulz’s birth and the 70th anniversary of his death and celebrations are ongoing across Poland.

Coming from a Private Collection in Israel, Bloom and Sign by Israeli artist Mordecai Ardon is also included in the December auction (est. $180/250,000). The 1970 oil on canvas is a striking example of the progress of Ardon’s oeuvre towards a fusion of the mystical and the terrestrial. The influence of the artist’s formal training at the Bauhaus, Weimer, under Klee, Kandinsky and Feininger, is visible in the incandescent green tones set against the depth of a black background. The present work also shows the artist’s reverence for the starry skies and the luminescent Mediterranean light, which he encountered when he moved to Israel.

Works by Contemporary artists in the sale are highlighted by Yaacov Agam’s The Covenant / The Twelve Tribes, a monumental work commissioned by Edward and Rosalie Ginsberg of Cleveland, Ohio (est. $250/350,000). The Ginsbergs met Agam through their charitable activities involving Israel. This acquaintance led to a long-time friendship as well as the commissioning of this work. Also on offer is Landscape by Ori Reisman, which dates from the early 1960’s and was included in the artist’s retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2004-05 (est. $50/70,000). Other Contemporary Israeli artworks include Avigdor Arikha’s Canadian Envelope from 1977 (est. $30/50,000); Following, a digital print on canvas by Michael Rovner that carries an estimate of $15/20,000; and Untitled (From the Boys Series) by Adi Nes from 2000 (est. $10/15,000).

*estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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