11 August 2009


Avigdor Arikha, born 1929 in Romania, is a Jewish artist currently living in Paris. In the 40s, Arikha was deported to a concentration camp with his parents, where his father died. Arikha survived due to his artistic skill, and was eventually relocated to Israel. He stayed there for a while, attending school at the Bezalel School of Art. He moved to Paris in 1949 upon reception of a scholarship to the Ecole de Beaux Arts, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Not only is his background unusual, but his artistic career follows an interesting path as well. He is the first artist I have seen to embrace abstract art and later reject it. After WWII, Arikha began schooling under Bauhaus influence. However, after a short time period, he decided abstraction insufficient for his purposes, and spent eight years producing prints and drawings. According to the artbook, this was largely inspired by a Caravaggio show he saw in 1965. In 1973, he picked up painting again and continued throughout his life time. He has been commissioned to do a number of portraits, including the Queen Mother. 

Interestingly enough, the artbook chose to depict a painting entitled "Sam's Spoon." Shown above, this painting is a tribute to Arikha's friend Samuel Beckett, and the painting was done on the one year anniversary of his death. Beckett's spirit and memory seems to be captured in this individually presented spoon, laid carefully on a creased napkin. Completed in 1990, this piece is currently held in private collection.

I chose to include pieces from relatively every era of Arikha's life. It is really fascinating to watch the way his style and focus shift, especially related to the recession from abstract to representational art. 

"Haute Rouge I," 1961- still in his abstraction period

"Self-portrait with Open Mouth," 1973

"The Square in June," 1983

"Ludovic Kennedy and Moira Shearer," 1993 

"Head and Shoulders," 1999

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