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Special Report

Mordecai Ardon:
Landscapes of Infinity


Mordecai Ardon
Fatal Eclipse, 1986




Mordecai Ardon
Sinai 1967
Sinai Golden Calf and Serpent, 1967



Mordecai Ardon
Sonambulistic Lemon Tree, 1965




Mordecai Ardon
To the Morning Stars, 1968



  JERUSALEM, ISRAEL.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, presents today the exhibition “Mordecai Ardon: Landscapes of Infinity.” This is the fourth and final Exhibition in Series Dedicated to Leading Israeli Artists. The exhibition opens today at 6 pm in the presence of the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Ehud Olmert, and noted scholar and collector, Arturo Schwarz; Followed by special gallery talk with Arturo Schwarz at 8 pm.
As an immigrant to Palestine in 1933, Mordecai Ardon (1896-1992), one of Israel’s most celebrated modern artists, captured his reverence for and connection to the land of Israel through his portrayals of its landscapes – from the hills of Judea to the gates of Jerusalem. This exhibition traces Ardon’s spiritual and artistic development as embodied in his changing landscapes – their themes, palette, and texture. From his early canvases portraying Jersualem to his famous tryptichs, his works reveal an affinity for mysticism and kabbalah and a spiritual union with the land he painted. 
Born Mordecai Bronstein to a hassidic family in Turchow, Poland, Ardon travelled a path common to many twentieth century Jewish artists. He studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany from 1920-1926, the leading European avant-garde center at the time, where he befriended Paul Klee and other prominent artists of the period. He then moved to Berlin and came to Palestine in 1933 with the first wave of immigration of the German intellectual elite. In Palestine he found refuge from growing persecution in Germany, but as a Marxist, he had little interest in Zionism. However, when he arrived in Jerusalem, the landscape infused his art with new subject matter and new meaning; and throughout his career, the physical reality of the landscapes he painted was of great importance to him. Concurrently, Ardon searched for the hidden and the beyond, breaking through the boundaries of landscape into the celestial. Stars and cosmic explosions populate many of his later works, which nevertheless maintain their likeness to the landscape. 
Ardon exerted considerable influence on Israeli art both as an artist and as a teacher, and in recognition, he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1964. He served as director of the Bezalel Academy of the Arts from 1940-1952 and then as advisor to the Education Ministry, where he sought to promote professional training for artists and greater appreciation for the arts among the Israeli public. In addition to the Israel Museum, his works are represented in the Tate Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and The Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
“This exhibition completes a quartet of exhibitions in 2002-2003 devoted to the life acheivements of four artists whose contributions to the history of modern art in Israel have been tremendous,” states Museum director James Snyder. “We are honored to conclude this series with a display of Ardon’s singular contribution to Israeli Art in the twentieth century.” 
As part of a collaborative initiative to show the full range of Ardon’s acheivements, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art concurrently presents Mordecai Ardon: Time, Space, and Metaphysics. Both exhibitions are accompanied by an illustrated bilingual monograph, Mordecai Ardon: The Colors of Time, written by Arturo Schwarz and published jointly by the Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The exhibition is directed by Ruth Apter-Gabriel, curator of special art projects at the Israel Museum. The exhibition has been made possible by The Foundation for the Perpetuation of the Artistic Legacy of Mordecai Ardon; the Gottesman Family Foundation; and the donors to the Israel Museum’s 2003 Exhibition Fund: Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy, Aspen, Colorado; Ruth and Leon Davidoff, Paris and Mexico City; Hanno D. Mott, New York; and The Nash Family Foundation, New York.


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