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Israel Museum collection expands with major acquisitions in 2013
Collection of 1,200 silver coins from Philistia, Judea, and Samaria. Persian period, 5th–4th centuries BCE. Gift of Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, New York.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, continued to grow its encyclopedic collections with a series of major acquisitions in 2013 that enhance the breadth and depth of its holdings across many departments and disciplines. Leading up to the Museum’s 50th anniversary in 2015, these acquisitions reflect its strategic approach to refining and strengthening its collections, enriching areas not previously represented, and enhancing quality in those that are—from prehistoric archaeological objects to recent work by cutting-edge contemporary artists worldwide.

“The impressive group of works that entered the Museum’s collections in 2013 is exemplary of our commitment to showcasing the full range of visual cultural history as a reflection of the universal nature of human experience,” said James S. Snyder, the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “We are deeply grateful to patrons and friends whose gifts continue to advance our standing as one of the top encyclopedic museums in the world. And we look forward to celebrating these gifts as a central feature of our 50th anniversary year in 2015.”

Among the notable works acquired by the Israel Museum in 2013 are:
Contemporary Art
Thomas Demand, Pacific Sun, 2011
Digital video, color, sound, 1 min. 40 sec., Edition of 6 + 2AP
Purchase, Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee of American Friends of the Israel Museum and the Barbara and Eugene Schwartz Contemporary Art Acquisition Endowment Fund. Joint Acquisition with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This video by German artist Thomas Demand depicts a chaotic scene inside the lounge of an ocean liner as it goes through rough waters. A painstaking recreation of a YouTube clip seen by the artist, Pacific Sun is Demand’s most elaborate and ambitious film project to date, comprised of a total of 2,400 still images. In his staging of the video, Demand meticulously recreated scenes of sliding and colliding furniture out of his preferred medium of construction paper. Working alongside ten animation artists in Hollywood, Demand spent months re-enacting the exact choreography of the event and photographing every movement. Absent any human presence, Pacific Sun is imbued nonetheless with moments of humor as the objects become personified through their spirited dance across the floor. Demand is well known for his photographs of one-to-one-scale cardboard models of interior spaces, charged with history. This work is the second by Demand to enter the Museum's collection, joining Copyshop (1999).

Omer Fast, 5000 Feet is the Best, 2011
Digital video, color, sound, English spoken, 30 min., Edition of 6 + 2AP
Purchase, Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee of American Friends of the Israel Museum and “Here & Now” Contemporary Israeli Art Acquisitions Committee, Israel

In this video, commissioned by the Biennale in Venice in 2011, Omer Fast presents an American Predator drone pilot’s experiences navigating unmanned combat aircraft to attack targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Blending documentary and fictional genres, 5000 Feet Is the Best is based on interviews with the Nevada-based drone operator in which he shares the technical aspects of his job as well as the psychological challenges he has faced. The fictional and factual retelling of this veteran’s story explores the shifting divisions between reality and representation, truth and memory. Born in Jerusalem and based in Berlin, Fast is among the most compelling video artists of his generation, weaving sound and image into stories that include personal and news-reported accounts of current events and history. This is the first work by Omer Fast to enter the Museum's collection.

Danh Vo, We The People (part E11), 2011
Copper, unique, 200 x 300 x 100 cm
Purchase, Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee of American Friends of the Israel Museum

Part of Vietnamese artist Danh Vo’s long-term project to replicate the Statue of Liberty in fragments on a scale of 1:1, We The People (part E11) is one of the 400 individual elements now dispersed among museums and collections across the globe. Drawing on this universal symbol of human liberty, Vo’s fragmentation and displacement of the iconic statue investigates the abstract nature of the concept of freedom. His oeuvre is characterized by allusions to his personal history as a refugee as well as to broader topics of migration and identity. This is the artist’s first work to enter the Museum's collection.

Modern Art
Henri Matisse, Portrait de Bevilacqua en moine, 1903
Oil on canvas, 80 x 65 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. A. Alfred Taubman to American Friends of the Israel Museum

Henri Matisse's Portrait de Bevilacqua en moine (1903), or The Monk in Meditation, is a self-portrait of the artist in the guise of a monk. Believed to have been exhibited for the first time in 1904 at the Salon d'automne in Paris, the painting reveals Paul Cézanne's influence on Matisse, who claimed, "In modern art, it is undoubtedly to Cézanne that I owe the most." As in Cézanne’s early works, Matisse is similarly motivated by a desire to give sculptural weight and volume to each painted element, with his subject's flesh, beard, clothes, and setting given equal solidity. Matisse uses a narrow range of tones throughout the painting, notably earthy browns and reds, causing the foreground and background to blend together. This work completes an aspect of Matisse’s early work not previously represented in the collection.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Double Line (Unfinished), 1934
Oil and charcoal on canvas, 57 x 55.3 cm
Purchase through the bequest of Otto and Rita Blau, Lugano; bequest of Johanna and Ludovic Lawrence, Jerusalem; gift of Marcella (Louis) Brenner, Maryland, in honor of Teddy Kollek’s 80th birthday; gift of the Boder-Levine family, Beverly Hills; gift of Dr. and Mrs. Isaac S. Friedman, Florida; bequest of Loula D. Lasker, New York; gift of Olga Konow, Monte Carlo; gift of Theodoros Stamos, New York; gift of the Justin Winter Estate, New York; gift of Barbara Levinson, New York; and gift of Morris J. Pinto, Paris

Among Mondrian’s rare “unfinished canvases,” this composition provides insight into the artist’s creative process by revealing his deliberation behind each painted element. Embodying the tenets of Neo-Plasticism, the work demonstrates the precision through which Mondrian sought to balance the relationship between the thickness of lines and the size of geometric grids in his works. This practice came to define Mondrian’s pictorial vocabulary, which he refined to express total equilibrium between planes of pure primary or no color and black lines. Mondrian retained Composition with Double Line (Unfinished) and several other unfinished canvases until his death. The work prompts important questions about whether Mondrian intended to finish this painting or to leave it in this state and the status of drawing in his oeuvre. This is the first work by Mondrian to enter the Museum’s holdings.

Alina Szapocznikow, Femme de ménage (Cleaning Lady), 1965
Cement with steel reinforcement, plaster, steel pipes, engine parts made of cast steel, 140 x 54 x 59 cm
Purchase through the bequest of Lord Amulree, England, and the gift of Agnès and Edward Lee, London

Femme de ménage (Cleaning Lady) is a major work from Alina Szapocznikow’s Paris years and reflects the artist’s deeply personal approach to creating sculpture. Revealing the influence of Surrealism and artists such as Alberto Giacometti, this work is emblematic of how the artist used her own body to imprint personal memories and experiences into her work. The sculpture serves as a self-portrait, created out of plastic cement with automobile parts and a polyester cast of the artist’s mouth imbedded into the surface.

A Holocaust survivor, Szapocznikow’s work often grapples with personal pain and confronts the collapse of her body from tuberculosis, which accounted for her untimely death at age 47.

Femme de ménage (Cleaning Lady), the first work by Sapoznicow to enter the collection, will be integrated into the Museum’s Modern Art Galleries to enrich the dialogue with works by such artists as Richter, Giacometti, Bacon, Dubuffet, and Guston.

Prints and Drawings
Trevor and Susan Chinn Collection of Maps of the Holy Land
Late 15th century – 1650
Gift of Trevor and Susan Chinn, London, through the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel

This major holding of more than 100 rare antique maps and books of the Holy Land has been gifted to the Museum by Sir Trevor and Lady Susan Chinn of London. Focusing on the crucial period from the late 15th century through 1650, and amplified by selected later examples, the collection reflects the major schools that mapped Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Among the rarest maps in the collection is Giovanni Francesco Camocio's 1566 map from Venice, depicted after Marino Sanudo’s map of 1320, with references to that of Berlinghieri, 1482. The depth of the Museum’s Norman Bier Section for Maps of the Holy Land has grown substantially due to the addition of this collection and will continue to grow with the Chinns’ expressed commitment to furthering its development in the future.

Seventy-four photographs by Richard Avedon
Joint gifts of the American Contemporary Art Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President; the Richard Avedon Foundation; and Gagosian Gallery to American Friends of the Israel Museum

This unprecedented gift of a cohesive body of portraiture by leading 20th-century photographer Richard Avedon totals 74 photographs, all executed between 1969 and 1976. The gift consists of the following works: Avedon’s iconic large-scale mural Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970; a complete set of the artist’s four smaller-format murals depicting a group of distinctive individuals in America at the time (Andy Warhol and members of The Factory, New York, October 30, 1969; The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 1969; The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971; and Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970); and The Family, a portfolio of 69 images of America’s power elite that was first published in 1976 in Rolling Stone magazine. The portfolio will be on view at the Museum as part of an exhibition examining Avedon’s black and white portraits of the most influential Americans of the time alongside original copies of the magazine to compare different modes of looking and illuminate the relationships between politics, the U.S. advertising industry, popular culture, and Avedon’s art. These works are the first by Avedon to enter the Museum’s extensive photography holdings.

Man Ray, Untitled (Paris Street Scene with Notre Dame), ca. 1925
Gelatin silver print with pencil
Purchase, Pritzker Foundation, San Francisco

This poetic photograph, notably different from other well-known works of the same period, reveals Man Ray’s photographic vision as a relatively new arrival to Paris—a time when he still possessed a sharp awareness of local scenes to which long-term residents were no longer sensitive. Upon arriving in Paris, Man Ray became friends with the photographer Eugène Atget, who focused almost entirely on scenes of the streets of Paris and who clearly influenced this work. In the images of both photographers, the streets are empty of people, like a stage in a theatre before the play begins. This photograph offers an exemplary contribution to the development of photographic perception of Western urban environments and, as such, is a significant contribution to the Museum's photography collection, which holds a substantial representation of approximately 80 works by Man Ray.

Jewish Art and Life
Twenty-six objects of Jewish ritual art from Europe
16th–19th centuries
Gift of Charles Michael, San Francisco, to American Friends of the Israel Museum

An exceptional ensemble of 26 objects of European Jewish ritual art was gifted to the Museum by Charles Michael. These works of singular beauty and craftsmanship from Eastern Europe, Germany, the Netherlands, England, and Italy, include 16th- to 19th-century ceremonial objects used in community life and ritual objects used in the private domain. Highlights include: a late 16th-century German goblet with a Burial Society inscription, the earliest burial cup in the Museum’s collection; a rare pair of 18th-century English Torah finials, commissioned by the congregation of the Great Synagogue of Portsmouth, and manufactured by the "Queen of English Silversmiths," Hester Bateman of London, in the neoclassical style; and a late 18th-century Torah shield from Lemberg in the Austrian Empire (today Lviv, Ukraine), whose reverse reveals a unique depiction of the Binding of Isaac and a detailed plan of the Temple of Jerusalem. These works constitute a significant addition to the Museum's holdings, strengthening its position as the world’s most comprehensive collection in the field.

Collection of 1,200 silver coins from Philistia, Judea, and Samaria
Persian period, 5th–4th centuries BCE
Gift of Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, New York

A magnificent collection of 1,200 silver coins from Philistia, Judea, and Samaria, primarily from the Persian period, was donated to the Museum by Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, New York. This group forms the largest collection in the world of Persian-period coins, which were issued during the 5th and 4th centuries BCE and which represent the first stage in the transition to a monetary economy in ancient Israel. It also makes an important contribution to the Museum's collection, as it contains a wide variety of coin types that were previously unknown. Among rare examples is a previously undiscovered YHD drachm, regarded as the most important ancient Jewish coin and the earliest known issue from Judea. On the coin, in Aramaic script, three letters appear: yod, heh, and dalet, signifying the name Yehud, or Judean.

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February 13, 2014

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Israel Museum collection expands with major acquisitions in 2013

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