Page 35 - Studio International - August 1965
P. 35

played its part in  Israel's artistic activity    much  of  the  poor  design  and  craftsmanship  in  the
                                    All  these  factors  make  up  the  background  to  the  tourist  gift  shops  But his  school  remains  the  leading
                                   creation  of  the  new  National  Museum  in  Jerusalem.   art academy in the country and the collection of Jewish
                                   These remarkable buildings are neither an isolated effort.   religious art has now become the finest in the world. His
                                   nor of a sudden, spontaneous phenomenon.  The need  successor Mordecai Narkiss expanded the collection to
                                   for  national  culture,  art  education  and  the  civilising  international  dimensions,  from  African  art  to  Renais­
                                   role of the creative artist were all  part of  early  Zionist  sance  drawings,  thus  laying  the  foundations  of  the
                                   philosophy.  The  new  museum,  indeed,  is  the  direct  present  Museum.
                                   descendant of the  Bezalel  Museum founded,  with the   Since  those  pioneering  days  many  other  museums
                                   famous art school of the same name, in 1906. Professor  have arisen  in the  country,  notably  in  Tel  Aviv where
                                   Boris Schatz  (1866-1932)  a sculptor and art historian  there are a number of well-endowed public collections,
                                   of Russian origin, who lived in Paris and other European  ranging from modern  Israeli art to the pavilions of the
                                   cities, named both institutions after Bezalel ben Uri ben  charming  Ha'aretz  Museum  devoted  to  glass,  coins,
                                   Hur,  the  legendary  Biblical  creator  of  the  Ark  of  the  costumes,  etc., and the Jaffa  Museum of local history.
                                   Covenant.  This  romantic  gesture was part of  Schatz's   Haifa,  Acre,  Beersheba,  and even new towns  such as
                                   aim  at  founding  a  national  art  form,  expressive  of   Eilath,  all  have  growing  collections.  One  of  the  finest
                                   Biblical  and  Jewish  themes,  with  a  dash  of  oriental  museums  of  modern  art  in  the  country  was  started
           Panoramic  v,ew of  the  Israel   motifs  for  local  colour.  It  cannot  be  said  that  he  30  years ago  on the collective settlement  Ein  Harod;
           National Museum
                                   succeeded,  or  contributed  to  modern  Israeli  art­  and at  Kibbutz  Hazorea,  near  Haifa,  the Wilfred  Israel
           The  Shrine of the  Book   although an unfortunate residual effect can be seen in   House contains a surprising collection of Far Eastern art.

                                                                                      With  the  creation  of  the  Israel  National  Museum  in
                                                                                     Jerusalem,  Israel  can  be  said  to  have  come  of  age
                                                                                     culturally. It is part of a new Kirya, or official city, which
                                                                                     includes the  Hebrew University, the new  Parliament, a
                                                                                     group of Ministries and the President's official residence.
                                                                                     This ambitious scheme is designed to give the some­
                                                                                     what  dull,  unprepossessing  capital  a  new  dignity,
                                                                                     worthy of its importance as the centre of government
                                                                                     and learning, and, also, a centre of tourist attraction.
                                                                                      The site, indeed,  is magnificent. The  Museum grace­
                                                                                     fully rests on a 22 acre hill with the charming Biblical
                                                                                     name  Nave  Shaanan-'Tranquil  Habitation',  overlook­
                                                                                     ing an 11 th century Crusader Monastery in the Valley of
                                                                                     the Cross. The architects of the main buildings, Professor
                                                                                     Alfred Mansfield and Mrs.  Dora Gad, have clearly been
                                                                                     inspired by the traditional architecture of the region, at
                                                                                     its best in the Arab villages. The squat, cubist pavilions
                                                                                     seem to grow out of the hillside, rhythmically blending
                                                                                     with the angle of its slope;  not,  as with the new tall,
                                                                                     monolithic  apartment  blocks,  at  variance  with  the
                                                                                     natural contours of  the  land.
                                                                                      Mansfield and  Gad were prize-winners in  a national
                                                                                     competition held  in 1959,  chosen  by an international
                                                                                     jury.  Professor  Mansfield,  born  in  St.  Petersburg  and
                                                                                     trained in  Berlin and  Paris,  is  Head of the  Department
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