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Lily Safra donates Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild 849-3(1997) to the Israel Museum
Gerhard Richter’, Abstraktes Bild 849-3, 1997. Oil on canvas. 260 x 340 cm.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum announced that longtime friend and patron Lily Safra has donated Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild 849-3 (1997) to the Museum in memory of her husband, Edmond J. Safra, a renowned philanthropist and one of the Museum’s greatest benefactors. The monumental abstract work,painted in shades of magenta and blue, is now on view in the Spertus Gallery at the entrance to the Museum’s Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, which was redesigned and reinstalled through the generosity of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation as part of the Israel Museum’s campus renewal project, completed in July 2010.

“It is an honor to celebrate my husband’s memory by presenting this extraordinary work to the Israel Museum, an institution for which he cared so deeply and which now provides an even more remarkable and beautiful setting thanks to its recent renewal,” said Lily Safra. “I cannot think of a better home for this painting, and I am gratified that it will inspire visitors from Israel and around the world for generations to come.

“We are deeply grateful to Lily Safra for this generous gift and for Edmond’s and her incomparable support for the Israel Museum over a great many years,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Abstraktes Bild 849-3 represents a major addition to our holdings in contemporary art, and we are thrilled that it is now part of the experience in visual culture that we provide for our audiences. We are also deeply gratified by the way in which this generosity underscores our Museum’s tradition of growing its collection through gifts of singular importance.”

Considered one of the most important artists of his generation, Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) has, since the 1960s, dedicated himself to painting, exploring the medium in still life, vivid abstract works, and monochromatic figurative paintings based on photography. Abstraktes Bild 849-3 is the third and final painting in a series that explores abstract gesture and bold coloration and caps an extended period of investigation in the field of abstraction. The 2 x 3 meter painting contains layers of color scraped across a seemingly endless expanse of canvas, demonstrating Richter’s unique method of constructing paintings gradually, alternately applying layers of paint and then spreading and scraping them with a squeegee, leaving traces of each of his actions on the canvas. In this set of paintings (849), the artist completed the creative process by peeling portions of the dried outer layer from the surface, creating a damaged look which also provides a window into his artistic process. The Israel Museum’s collection also includes Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (red, blurred) 743-3 (1991), on permanent loan from a private collection.

The longstanding relationship between the Israel Museum and Edmond and Lily Safra extends from the time of the Museum’s founding by Teddy Kollek and includes major support for such acquisitions as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity manuscript, as well as ongoing operating support. In 2009, the Israel Museum announced a $12-million gift from the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation for the renewal, reinstallation, and endowment of the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing.

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