Sprawling Exhibition Explores Joseph Beuys’s Influence on Israeli Art

The multi-gallery group show is a must see.

Joseph Beuys (1967) Photo: Liselotte Strelow via Landschaftsverband Rheinland
Joseph Beuys famously said "every man is an artist." Photo: Liselotte Strelow via Landschaftsverband Rheinland
Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv Photo: inhabitat.com

Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv
Photo: inhabitat.com

A new multi-gallery group show documenting the influence of the German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys on the Israeli art scene opens at Tel Aviv’s Contemporary by Golconda gallery on October 15.

Titled “Beuys, Beuys, Beuys,” the exhibition, curated by Liav Mizrahi, explores the post-war artist’s influence on contemporary art in Israel and questions why Beuys had such a profound impact on Israeli art, especially given his military background in the German army during World War II.

Tali Ben Bassat Untitled (2006) Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

Tali Ben Bassat Untitled (2006)
Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

Divided across a number of spaces in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Sderot, the show brings together 75 artists. Each gallery showcases a group of artists based on how different aspects of Beuys’s teachings influenced their artistic output.

At Contemporary by Golconda, the emphasis is placed on the influence of anthroposophy on Beuys’s work and, in turn, how Beuys’s anthroposophical works influenced Israeli art from the 1970s to today.

Varda Getzow and Tali Ben Bassat each present a new series of large watercolor drawings in the anthroposophical tradition, whilst Olaf Kühnemann will also show a group of watercolors from a deeply personal and masculine perspective. The watercolor medium is contrasted by a set of abstract pop-art paintings by Arie Aroch.

Gideon Levin Superman (2012) Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

Gidon Levin Superman (2012)
Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

Meanwhile, Beuys’s relationship to nature can be observed in the works of artists Yitzhak Danziger and Avital Geva, and in the early wood sculptures of Hadas Ophrat.

In contrast, the belief in resurrection, which is echoed in Judaism and consequently also in Israeli art, carries a strong presence in the work of Ariane Littman and Alon Andorn.

The photography of Gidon Levin offers a pleasant change of pace to the show while the work of emerging artist Lee Scop brings a hint of humor and sarcasm into the mix.

Itzhak Danziger Collage for the Rehabilitation of the Nesher Quarry (ca.1971) Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

Itzhak Danziger Collage for the Rehabilitation of the Nesher Quarry (ca.1971)
Photo: Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv

The artists on show present an eclectic variety of works that are connected by their strong Beuysian undercurrent which ranges from the metaphysical influences of the legendary artist to the cynical commentary of the contemporary art world.

“Beuys, Beuys, Beuys,” a multi-site exhibition at the Artist House Tel aviv, Beit Binyamini – Ceramic Center, Gallery Contemporary by Golconda, Gallery Meshona, Gallery Agripas, KAV 16, and the Training Gallery at Sapir College, runs from October 15 – December 19.


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