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Sotheby's announces sale of Israeli & International Art on 21 November in NYC
Nachum Gutman’s, The Three Angels, 1950. Showcases the artist’s career-long fascination with life in the land of Israel. Estimate $50/70,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s shared highlights from their annual Israeli and International Art sale in New York on 21 November. This year’s auction features a vibrant range of styles, movements, and mediums from the most beloved Israeli and European artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Reuven Rubin, Marc Chagall, Yaacov Agam and Nir Hod. A significant group of Israeli works comes from a distinguished private collection in Europe, encompassing important paintings by the founders of the Israeli modern movement, such as Mordecai Ardon, Nachum Gutman and Moshe Castel. Contemporary art is proudly represented by a kinetic work from 1972 by Yaacov Agam, a colorful abstract painting by Lea Nikel, striking portraits by Nir Hod, and one of the most important photographs by Ilit Azoulay.

Open to the public on 17 November, the sale will be presented alongside the exhibition of Sacred Splendor: Judaica from the Arthur and Gitel Marx Collection.

Property from a private collection in Europe
The sale is highlighted by an exceptional group of 20 works from a Private Collection in Europe, with estimates ranging from $2,000 – $300,000. The collection is led by a highly important work from 1959 by Mordecai Ardon, The Blue Birds, painted in a style that recalls the artist’s teacher at the Bauhaus School, Paul Klee (estimate $300/400,000). Influenced by Klee’s interest in depicting the unseen, the secret and the mystical, Ardon became inspired by the Kabbalah and his readings of the Zohar. Various Kabbalistic elements and diagrams were used as important themes in his paintings expressing the artist’s need to reunite the stories and symbols of the past with the land of Israel in the present. Thus, the flock of three blue birds depicted at the lower right of the painting may be interpreted as a flock of disciples, replacing the Kabbalistic motif of burning candles seen in other works from this period. This luminescent use of colors is central in this painting in which areas of red, yellow and green float like jewels and constellations against a dark sky, while the three birds are encompassed in a luminous blue, all giving the picture an otherworldly aura.

Painted in 1950, Nachum Gutman’s The Three Angels showcases the artist’s career-long fascination with life in the land of Israel (estimate $50/70,000). Whether he is depicting contemporary scenes from daily life, as seen in the present work, or stories from the land’s rich Biblical past, his colors are bright, his scenes are vibrant and his brushstrokes are expressive.

Reuven Rubin
The auction features 9 works by renowned Romanian-born Israeli painter, Reuven Rubin, spanning the entirety of his prolific career. The group includes two superb works from the mid-1930’s, Well in the Olive Forest (estimate $60/80,000) and Tiberias (estimate $50/70,000), a period when the artist produced some of his finest landscapes, in which his interest in light and atmosphere were largely inspired by Impressionist techniques.

Coming from a later period in Rubin’s career, The Blue Horses, painted in 1964 and Horses in Caesarea, 1973, represent a bold departure from the artist’s traditional pictures of religious figures, landscapes and still lives (estimates $60/80,000 and $50/70,000, respectively). These two works showcase Rubin’s interest in the interpretation and depiction of galloping horses.

Contemporary Art from renowned and emerging artists
This year’s annual sale features works by some of the most riveting contemporary Israeli artists of today, including Lea Nikel, Avigdor Arikha, Ilit Azoulay and Nir Hod. Of particular importance is a kinetic work from 1972 by Yaacov Agam, Tableau Tactile: La Verité, in which the viewer is invited to be a creator, to manipulate and alter the black & red composition manually, and thus create a constantly changing image (estimate $80/100,000).

Additionally, 5 works in the sale will be sold to benefit the non-profit organization, Artis, whose mission is to broaden international awareness and understanding of contemporary visual art from Israel. Founded in 2004, Artis connects artists, art professionals, and the public through programs that emphasize sustained support and meaningful opportunities for visual artists from Israel living anywhere in the world. The group features a magnetic print of Lilies of the Field #1, Jerusalem, Jews’ Wailing Place by Tel-Aviv based, multidisciplinary artist, Dor Guez (estimate $14/18,000). Executed this year, the present work is based on the pressed flower albums left by pilgrims and tourists of the Holy Land in the late 19th, early 20th Centuries and examines the relation between nature and culture. The selection also features work by contemporary artists such as Hila Lulu Lin, Shai Azoulay, Lea Nikel and Matan Ben-Tolila.

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