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Exhibition of photographs and drawings of wooden synagogues opens at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Frank Stella (b. 1936, Malden, MA), "One small goat Papa bought for two zuzim," from Illustrations after El Lissitzky's Had Gadya, 1982-1984, Hand-colored with lithographic, linoleum block and silkscreen printings, size, Collection of Tel Aviv Museum of Art, gift of Sir Jack Lyons and Lady Lyons, London, through the Tel Aviv Foundation, 1985. Photo: Avraham Hay.
TEL AVIV.- On view for the first time since 1941 is the museum's rare collection of photographs and drawings of wooden synagogues from 1910–1913 by the architect Alois Breyer (1885–1948). The mid-eighteenth century synagogues were destroyed in World War II.

Works by El Lissitzky (1890–1941) and Frank Stella (b. 1936), two modern artists who were influenced by synagogue architecture and decoration, show us how geometric abstraction transforms the language, narrative, and beauty of the synagogues into a modern idiom.

Along with Issachar Ryback, Lissitzky embarked on an expedition to the wooden synagogues in 1915–1916, and his sketches and memoirs are part of the exhibition, as are his original gouache Had Gadya drawings of 1918–1919 from the museum’s collection. Stella, following a visit to the museum in 1981, decided to produce his Illustrations after Lissitzky's Had Gadya (1982–1984), also in the museum collection, which was followed by the Cones and Pillars series.

On exhibit are Lissitzky's constructivist and suprematist works: the Proun (Project for the Affirmation of the New) and Figurinen – designs for electro-mechanical automatons in an unrealized puppet theater adaption of Kazimir Malevich's opera Victory over the Sun, on loan from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Stella was given a book on the synagogues in 1970 by Richard Meier, which led to his Polish Village series (1970–1973), and the related Paper Reliefs (1975), on loan from the Kenneth Tyler collection at the National Gallery of Australia , Canberra . The synagogue architecture reminded Stella of Eastern European abstract painting and, in particular, constructivist works such as those of Vladimir Tatlin.

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