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Raffi Lavie The Israeli Pavilion The Venice Biennale 53rd Inter national Art Exhibition

Raffi Lavie The Israeli Pavilion The Venice Biennale 53rd International Art Exhibition

Table of Contents



Raffi Lavie:

About Raffi Lavie—Fragments _85

Doreet LeVitte Harten, Diana Dallal, Ilan Wizgan,

Ilana Lavie, Yair Garbuz, Amir Mandel, David Ginton,

Arad Turgeman, Michal Sahar, Koby Levy, Daria Kassovsky,

Yona Fischer, Michal Heiman, Sarah Breitberg-Semel,

In the Name of the Father

Sarah Breitberg-Semel _86

Yael Braun, Mati Broudo, Carmit Blumensohn

Michal Na'aman, Itamar Levy, Ilana Tenenbaum,

Doreet LeVitte Harten _5

Meir Ahronson _87

Jachin Hirsch, Alon Altaras Catalogue printing & binding: A.R. Press Ltd., Tel Aviv

Deganit Berest, Philip Rantzer, Uri Katzenstein,

Photographs: Yigal Pardo, Meidad Suchowolski

Drorit Gur Arie, Ellen Ginton


Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Oded Löbl and Sigal Kolton

Irit and Boaz Biran, Gil Brandes

On the cover (English):

Friends of the Israeli Pavilion (IPS)

Raffi Lavie, (“Shulkhan Aroch”), (detail), 2001

Idit Amihai, Yona Marcu, Yossi Balt, Shlomo Yitzhaki,

Acrylic and pencil on plywood, 120x120

Micha Yinon, Efrat Livny, Moran Shoub

Collection of Oli Alter, Tel Aviv

Noam Segal, Shay Raz, Gabriel Levin Hotel Montefiore staff, Tel Aviv, Sotheby's Israel, Galai PR

David Ginton _88

Biographical Notes _31

Itamar Levy _89 Deganit Berest _89

Works _34

Yair Garbuz _90 Meir Wieseltier _92

Selected Bibliography

Aïm Deüelle Lüski _93

[Hebrew] _128

Jacob Mishori _94

On the cover (Hebrew):

Yoel Rassabi, Daniella Atach, Diana Shoef, Ofer Mazar

Michal Heiman, Raffi Lavie, Tel Aviv, 1992

Aurelio Rampazzo, Venice; MB Audiovisivi, Padua

B&W print, 80x56

Giovanni Boldrin, Padua; Lucia Briseghella, Padua

Ariella Azoulay _95

Michele Galizia, Padua; Mirco Lunardello, Padua

Moshe Ninio _97

Measurements are given in centimeters, height x width

Stefania Scarafia, Padua; F.lli Marcato, Stra Floricoltura Scarpa G.M.&.F., (Lido) Venice Edna Moshenson, Levia and Helman Stern, Tammy and Martin Weil,

Michal Na’aman _94

Yona Fischer _98 Irad Kimhi _99

Dov and Hana LeVitte, Jürgen Harten and Shelley Harten

Sarit Shapira _99

Tammy and Danny Litani, Nily Noyman

Dalia Karpel _100

Ora and Tamir Agmon, Danny Unger, Adina Alsheich,

Shva Salhoov _101

The Israeli Council of Culture and Art

Oli and Zippi Alter, Noemi Givon, Noa and Asaf Danziger,

Visual Art Section

Nurit Wolf, Hillela Tal, Itay and Rina Talgam, Benno Kalev,

Tamar Getter _101

Doron Sebbag, Edna Kowarsky, Ari Raved, Timna Rosenheimer, Steering Committee:

Ofer and Hagit Shapira

Deganit Berest, Uri Katzenstein, Philip Rantzer, Drorit Gur Arie, Ellen Ginton Coordinator: Idit Amihai ScribaNetStudio, Padua Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport

Vetreria Bonini BEB srl., Massa

Culture and Arts Administration, Museums & Visual Arts

Sapore Italiano, Alessandria

Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cultural & Scientific Relations Division Embassy of Israel in Rome

Publication of the catalogue was supported by ISBN: 978-965-91402-0-6

the Israel National Lottery Council for the Arts

Amir Mandel _102 Sarah Breitberg-Semel _103


Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

entity to be regarded through the prism of familiar influences. These may range from Cy Twombly to Robert Rauschenberg, or from Paul Klee to Arnulf Reiner. Those who are not of our people would not recognize names such as Aviva Uri and Arie Aroch—two Israeli artists whose impact on Lavie was immense and immediate.

– Doreet LeVitte Harten –

Lavie as a peripheral variant would be at best comprehended as having been shaped by the

“In fifty years things will straighten up, and on a sunny Saturday a family will go out and visit the ‘Raffi Lavie Museum’.” Adam Baruch, “Raffi Lavie. A Bit of Hysteria, Please,” Haaretz, 19 May 2003 [Hebrew].

Dedicated to my six faithful readers

gravitational forces emanating from the center, and in the worst case scenario—he might be a

Part I in which the nature of the audience is being speculated and a bifurcation is thus achieved

sacrifice to the Omai syndrome. Omai, let us recall, was a Tahitian native brought to England in 1774 by the notorious Captain Cook, to become the attraction of London’s high society during the two years to follow. By way of comparison, the universal values of aesthetics may be well and good in explaining

For the Israeli public, Raffi Lavie is a household

Lavie as an artist, but they are insufficient in

name, a local icon, and a cultural hero. A figure

explaining the fatal attraction he cast on his local

in which the clan invested its image, dreams,

peers. When we deal only with the universal, we

and doubts. He forms a nucleus which bespeaks

are telling half a story. His almost mythological

territories beyond his art and his being an artist,

presence, in the sense that he represented a

to the extent that even those who deny his

quintessence of Israeli culture, inquires into the

qualities acknowledge his cultural impact. For

nature of that mythogene that responded to the

this Israeli audience, this particular clan, Lavie

collective ethos.

is central in understanding their own culture.

During his lifetime, Lavie escaped both the

For those not of our people, however, those

bitter destiny of being exotic, and the sweeter

who are not at home with our manners, codes,

fate of being a second among equals, due to

and behavioral apparatus, Lavie is an unknown

the simple fact that he was only rarely exposed

* For visual references see p. 30.

,‫ רפי לביא‬:‫פריים מתוך‬

Still from: Raffi Lavie,

‫ מ"מ‬8 ‫ סרט‬,1979 , ‫י ו נ ה ה נ ב י א‬

Yona Hanavi (St.), 1979 8 mm film

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

in a major show abroad, and when foreign

art: art was not taught on the practical level,

dignitaries came to Israel, he was too much of

but rather the outcomes were discussed in

an aristocrat to pay them tribute. That is to say,


he did not go out of his way to be discovered.

— He curated numerous exhibitions, and was

On the other hand, his fellow Israelis were not

responsible for the second wave of modernism

sure he would be understood according to their

in its abstract aspect.

own gospels. This deadly combination made him

— Most of Lavie’s students became leading

a hidden treasure up to the present Biennale (or

artists in turn, and created around him what

so we hope).

Sarah Breitberg-Semel had termed in her

A dilemma persists though—why is it that,

canonical text the “want of matter” aesthetic.1

while being so central to the art scene in Israel, he

According to Breitberg-Semel, it was an art

never made it abroad; and why, two years after

meager in terms of its materials, which was

his death, he is officially sent to the Biennale?

not simply Israeli, but rather typically and

What do his art and persona invoke? What

essentially Tel Avivian. It expressed a secular

does his memory imply? We might also ponder

spirit, a pioneering social ethos, an art of the

about what we wish to remember, and why this

native-born—the Sabra, who gave up the

memory, therapeutic in character, has the taste

Zionist pathos, yet adhered to the anaesthetic

of urgency.

aspect of his Judaism. Lavie, she maintained, created an art in the spirit of the place, a

Let me first put forth some facts about Lavie’s life:

native sensuality which he was the first to

— Raffi Lavie was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, in

articulate, implemented on plywood rather

1937; he died in Tel Aviv in 2007.

than on canvas, employing collage, scribbling,

— He was the central figure in the Israeli art

and industrial paint. “The grand old Zionist

scene for four decades, starting his activities

experience, replete with pathos and values,

in the early 1960s.

is ultimately diminished to a physical love

— He was a teacher at the Midrasha Art

for the city. For the ‘Tel Aviv child’ there is

Teachers’ Training College, later to become

no ‘religion,’ no ‘nation,’ no ‘land,’ there is

the Art School, Beit Berl Academic College,

only the concrete city. There is no ideology,

one of the two leading art institutes in Israel,

but true vitality.”2

and he revolutionized methods of teaching

— Lavie was a connoisseur of music. He held

1. Sarah Breitberg-Semel, cat. The Want of Matter:

A Quality in Israeli Art, trans. Susann Codish (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1986). 2. Ibid., p. 182.

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

weekly meetings at home dedicated to

generous strokes of paint. These topics were

Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg march

also to harness its zeal to the idea of a new

music appreciation, and thereby developed a

masterfully addressed in essays by David Ginton

into Rome like the barbarians before them and

society. A place which never decided whether its

comparative system of music comprehension.

and Mordechai Geldman4. I find these two

harvest all its mythological wealth?

people are the orphans or the forefathers of the

— He developed a bartering system whereby he

phenomena connected with a deep understanding

The difference, it seems to me, lies in the

West, to borrow Michal Na’aman’s words. What

would exchange his works with other artists.

of his being an artist in the periphery, and more

starting point. Those artists, well-immersed in

does it mean to be an artist in a place which relies

At the outset of his career, the art market was

so—of his being Jewish and Israeli, and therefore

their cultural heritage, could afford to wave

on reproductions, second-hand knowledge, a

almost nonexistent in Israel, and the barter

twice removed from the great womb of Western

the banner of iconoclasm without the risk of

handful of art books, and the stories of those

system was an efficient tool in spreading art

aesthetics. Lavie, in recognizing what might be a

appearing ridiculous, being safely tucked in the

who were at the center and came back to tell its

and circulating images.

disadvantage, took that to be the fundamental

arms of their own Western tradition. To wit, it


— He opened his house to anyone seeking his

concern of his work, and in employing the act of

is not the act, but the performer, who decides

By the end of the 1950s the local art hegemony

advice and friendship, thus turning it into the

erasure and the child-like stand, being blessed by

its credibility, and it is here that the difference

belonged to a group called New Horizons which,

real place where art in Israel was discussed.

the euphoria of eternal infantilism, which was

is encapsulated as a dilemma inherent in matters

in resisting the Paris school and the local style

His apartment on Yona Hanavi (Prophet

manipulated towards his own needs, reached a

of good taste. Lavie took risks from which those

they identified as pure propaganda, tended

Jonah) Street acquired a mythological status,

new definition of the outcast. Concerning the

artists inside their security fence were immune.

toward what they called Lyrical Abstraction,

introducing an alternative to the role of

erasure, Geldman writes:”…His erasures have

This means he had to take into account by-passes

which they believed would connect them to the

museums as canon-making loci.

many forms and nuances—they emerge as color

and strategies of camouflage. He had to acquire

rest of the world. Lavie took this group as a point

surfaces, stains, scribbles, tears, and cuts… The

certain shrewdness so that his paintings would

of departure. By forming a cadre of young artists,

erasure, however, always acquires a presence as

feel at home in a hostile surrounding. I may be

the 10+ group, he aired some notions concerning

a new reality, replacing or adding to that which

exaggerating in matters of hostility, but it was

the avant-garde, injected new tendencies, such

was erased… Lavie’s painting is a catalogue

there, and one had to create ways to avoid or

as collage and assemblage, rejuvenated the

of all the prohibitions that were cancelled by

manipulate it.

scene via a series of exhibitions that had arbitrary

— He was an authoritative and charismatic figure.

Part II in which we air some prejudice and contemplate the possibility of being an Israeli artist


modernism, a collection of everything excluded

Lavie’s understanding of the periphery in its

themes, and as such, were under the halo of

from classical painting,” going on to connect this

double role, as an actual place and as a spiritual

the Now which was grasped as both local and

aggressiveness with that of a child: “The erasure

dimension, is crucial to his aesthetic. By the


furnishes Lavie with the power to domesticate

beginning of the 1960s he was in his mid-20s

The 1960s were Lavie’s formative years,

the world, to force his own subjectivity on it.”

and already knew himself to be an artist. But

and they were very different from the 1960s in Europe and the United States. The generation


Two facts befall the eye upon observing Raffi

Indeed, you may now ask what the big deal

what does it mean to declare oneself an artist

Lavie’s works. First, that he paints as though

is in those iconoclastic acts. They were enacted

in a place which understands abstract art as a

that rediscovered love in America, or took up

he were a child, and second, his obsession with

by generations of artists from Dubuffet to Miró

ticket to the moderna only in its utopian form,

barricades in Paris, was not allowed to interfere

erasing images through scribbling, etchings, and

and from Malevich to Duchamp, and did not

and by means of splendid manipulation succeed

with the New Man being created here. Even the

3. David Ginton, “Head Birth: Portrait of Raffi as a Young

4. Mordechai Geldman, “The Last Erasure: On Raffi Lavie’s

Painter,” cat. Raffi: The Early Paintings, 1957-1961, trans.

Retrospective Exhibition at the Israel Museum, February

Richard Flantz (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1993).

2003,” The True Self and the Self of Truth: Psychoanalytic

and Others Perspectives (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2006) [Hebrew], pp. 209-15. 5. Ibid.

‫ דיו על נייר‬,1957

1957, ink on paper

‫ דיו על נייר‬,1957

1957, ink on paper

‫ אוסף בנו כלב‬,35.1”49.5

35.1x49.5, Benno Kalev

‫ אוסף בנו כלב‬,35.6”49.6

35.6x49.6, Benno Kalev

‫תל אביב‬

Collection, Tel Aviv

‫תל אביב‬

Collection, Tel Aviv

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

Raffi Lavie

‫ שמן על נייר‬,)‫ (פרט‬1957

1957 (detail), oil on paper

‫ באדיבות גבעון‬,50”35

50x35, courtesy Givon Art Gallery

)41 '‫ תל אביב (ר' קט‬,‫גלריה לאמנות‬

Tel Aviv (see cat. 41)



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

Beatles were prevented from performing in Israel,

Dani and Shuki, thus preserving the eternal state

lest their music corrupt the Zionist discourse and

of the product. By the same token, it is also Raffi,

its poetic expressions; it was Isser Harel, former

and not Rafael.

head of Israel’s internal security service, who

Sarah Breitberg-Semel, in the aforementioned

years later in an interview said: “We dictated to

essay and in connection to Lavie and the group

you what to think, what to see, what to read. We

that formed around him, wrote: “Beyond the

did not want revolutions here,” and by “you” he

scribbling and the meager materials, Lavie’s

meant Lavie’s generation.

work presents us with a new figure, that of the


Those were the years in which the myth of

‘dispossessed Sabra,’ who identified Judaism

the New Hebrew consolidated into the figure of

with the ‘doomed diaspora’; who scorns the

the native Israeli called Sabra; a construct made

Zionist myth and its pathos, as he does all

from the ashes of those who perished in the

myths, symbols and rhetoric; who ridicules the

Holocaust, who nonetheless went unrecognized

European bourgeois decadence and its ‘worldly

as his legitimate forebears. There was an abyss

possessions,’ and clings to a mode of behavior

between them as Jews and him as a native Israeli.

which consists of ‘torn and threadbare rags’ with

Not only did he stand at the opposite pole from

which to express his authenticity.”7

the diasporic Jew, but also as the opposite of

By the time Breitberg-Semel wrote her text

the latter’s caricatural image, hence he had no

in 1986, the myth of the Sabra was nearing its

biological family that could be translated into a

end. For Lavie, it had already ended in 1956. “As

symbolical status. This native—like Athena who

far as I am concerned,” he said in an interview,

sprang full blown and fully-armed from the head

“Israel collapsed in 1956. It started with the Sinai

of her father, Zeus—is a further achievement

Campaign... One day I heard Ben Gurion declare

in the art of parthenogenesis for his biological

the establishment of ‘the third kingdom of Israel’

progenitors were replaced by the State, which

on the radio, and that gave me a shock. Since

becomes a pseudo-biological entity. Thus, the

then I have been feeling the collapse; it’s been

State is the begetter; the peer groups are the

years now that people are saying the situation

nuclear family, and the friends are the siblings.

cannot get any worse. It turns out it can.”8

Since he was born as a finished product, the

Lavie as the mythological native is a thesis

Sabra is also an eternal youth, which explains

that was repudiated in later time, when the figure

why Israeli grown-ups are still called Bibi and Udi,

lost its credibility and its banner bearers came to

6. Quoted in Dan Lachman, “The 1960s,” l /Editor/hagut-948.htm [Hebrew]. 7. Breitberg-Semel 1986, note 1, p. 181. 8. In an interview with Dalia Karpel, Ha’aretz, 21 December 2005 [Hebrew].

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,)‫ (פרט‬2004

2004 (detail), acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

)28 '‫אוסף פרטי (ר' קט‬

Private collection (see cat. 28)


Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

understand that the joke was on them. What had

put the finger on that melancholic aesthetic as

started as an answer to a caricature, ended thus. A

characteristic to the Israeli, and that is why when

counter-interpretation of Lavie removed the local

Adam Baruch summed up his greatness, he wrote:

components and wove him into the matrix of the

“Most of those writing about Lavie, had they

world by employing postmodern epistemologies

been men of truth, had their spirit been free,

or by negating the appeal of formal explanation

would have possibly said ‘Raffi Lavie reaffirms

and tending towards the symbolic values in his

my private values and ensures their survival, and

art. This approach was already discernible in

this is his greatness for me,’ and would settle for

David Ginton’s essay in the catalogue of his 1993


exhibition of early paintings, and was further developed by Sarit Shapira in her essay for Lavie’s retrospective at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in 2004.


Beyond all the attempts to clarify the Raffi

Part III in which we explore the paintings themselves

Lavie phenomena and explain his centrality in the

If I put forward the claim that Lavie was spawned

landscape of Israeli culture, there is the fact that

by a scopophobic tradition that might have

his art, like a mirror, reflects the virtues and values

influenced the very roots of his art, it still does

with which we wish to identify. The aesthetics he

not negate the very fact of his being an artist

offers encapsulates the quintessence of our being

measured by universal standards. What it does is

here. Lavie is the Good Samaritan, the keeper of

create a deviation that may help understand his

a certain dignity which is lost, since that which

works in the context of his specific culture. In this

is reflected from his paintings, the symbolical

sense, making art for Lavie (and any other Jewish

figure they produce, could be summed up as that

and Israeli artist) is an act stained by anomaly,

of the Good Israeli, and he/she is an embodiment

and is not self-evident, axiomatic or natural.

of those values gone awry. This Good Israeli still

I say stained and not colored because such an

contains the stratified myth and the renunciation

anomaly should be taken in proportion. Consider

of his nativeness. Lavie, aware of that dream,

it as background noise. Moreover, there is great

being himself its product, understood the nature

beauty inherent in such prerequisites, for they

of that inner dispossession, which is exteriorized

turn the artist into someone who is forced to act

by dispossessing the other. In other words, Lavie

against the grain, a stand that catapults him into

9. Sarit Shapira, cat. Raffi Lavie: Works from 1950 to 2003 (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 2003). 10. Adam Baruch, How Are Things At Home (Tel Aviv: Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir, 2004), p. 193 [Hebrew].

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

device, at least the parts of the motto (in Lavie’s

the traditional role of the romantic artist. One

should not be given any status, because such a

blooms and tackling the bare reality, such as

may trace this pathos of emancipation in Lavie’s

notion (embedded, for example, in the use of

the stains and scribbles, there opens the ghost

case, the words head and geranium, and in

public activities, in his capacities as organizer,

canvas as a classical painterly surface) would entail

kingdom with its surface of invocation, and

Na’aman’s case—a collection of linguistic puns

in his charismatic personality which gathered

an opinionated, if not prejudiced, attitude which

that which is being invoked oscillates between

introduced unto the surface of the work) and

people around him, but not in his paintings.

would, a-priori dictate our relationship with the

histories of art as public domain and your own

the pictura (picture, icon), whereas the subsciptio

In describing his works, several periods are

visual impact of the picture. Either the work in this

private hallucination. How ironic that the same

(epigram) is avoided, yet forms a third part in

discernable. The beginning is marked by child-

sense cuts off its relations with the world or else

support which belonged to the world order, is

the viewer’s interpretation. Emblems, it is well

like figures, objects, and scribbles which remain

it needs to speak its language. What does it mean

the one that throws you out.

known, are related to the Egyptian hieroglyphs

constant throughout the years. In the early 1960s

to speak the language of the world? It means

This reversible game is not just retained to the

and are considered a secret iconic language, a

he flirted with abstract white color fields, and

keeping the flow to reality and back; being aware

plywood; it is enacted through numerous agents.

riddle by its very nature, and this also resembles

later—especially in the 1970s and 1980s—he used

of the work’s capacity to integrate itself into the

In the arsenal of Lavie’s motifs, the couple and

the ideographic character of Lavie’s images.

collage techniques as a major tool of expression.

world until it becomes a natural component of

the jar appear time and again, sometimes in the

I would like to go back to the issue of

Also consistent is his use of plywood which

its perception. This is one way to keep relevance,

same work and sometimes in different ones. As

reversibility, to the state of aporia where choice

is almost always the support material of the

because the work does not respond to reality, as

in the case of Rubin’s Vase, the negative space

between two superimposed realities has to be

painting, and which was discussed at length by

much as it is a part of it. Such is Lavie’s procedure

between the couple acquires the form of a jar,

made. In this oscillation between what is and

Itamar Levy , Aïm Deüelle Lüski , Sarit Shapira,

that it allows us to conceive a certain freedom

and vice versa; thus the fullness of the jar is the

what is not, between the fullness of an image

and Sarah Breitberg-Semel.

emanating from the painting being one with

emptiness of the couple. This means that opposite

and its negative space, Lavie seems to have opted



Plywood was considered an inferior, valueless

the world. This might explain the significance

forces are at play within the painting and

for the latter, and this choice has to do with the

material, lacking in decorum, almost a found

attributed to the margins of the picture, as well

something must be given up; namely, one image

double periphery mentioned above. To produce

object by essence; an artificial product akin to

as the fact that the images are not terminated,

will not survive. It can be either the rabbit or the

a painting which is not there and yet its presence

plastic, its cheapness a defiance of the cultural

but rather go beyond the frame.

duck, its own iconoclast or its own savior, and it

is mediated through material substance calls for

notions essential to the history of art. In many

The other fact concerning plywood almost

is here also that Lavie’s work maintains a familial

a set of prohibitions with which Lavie surrounded

works, the plywood is a major player along with

negates the first in the sense that it touches

resemblance to the work of his former student

himself: not to paint like a mature artist; not to

the brush strokes and the scribbles in organizing



and subsequently colleague, Michal Na’aman,

use a conservative support; not to use traditional

the picture surface into a coherent unit. But its

according to Moshe Ninio, the mask—of the

who is a master in constructing rebuses as the

paint; not to paint, but to smear; not to draw, but

status does not catch my eye as much as two facts:

plywood’s humility, there lurk a movement and

cornerstone of her art. Both share a genealogy

to scribble; to create accidental events; and to

the first is the accidental character associated

an afterimage due to the wavy pattern of the

which leads them through Marcel Broodthaers

declare the act of painting, as he did repeatedly

with it, the contingency of its being. Plywood

wood grain.

Indeed poverty has its own tactics

(who was then unknown to both of them) to

during his lifetime, as something he hates but is

as a primary surface implies a stand maintaining

and pleasures when it comes to camouflaging

Magritte. One more thing: what these two artists

nevertheless forced to do. In short, he removed

that the scaffolds holding the whole cannot and

its real aims. After leaving the land where art

have in common is the use of the emblematic

the air of materiality from his art and left it

11. Itamar Levy, “Jars, Heads, and White Noise,” cat. Raffi

12. Aïm Deüelle Lüski, „The Ways of Plywood,“ Please

13. Moshe Ninio, in Sarah Breitberg Semel, “Yehudit

Lavie (Works, 1985-1990) (Tel Aviv & Berlin: Givon Art

Read What Is Painted Here, eds. Efrat Biberman and Deganit

Sasportas and Moshe Ninio Talk about Raffi Lavie on

Gallery & and Galerie Asperger, 1991-92).

Berest (Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl Academic

the Occasion of his Retrospective Exhibition at the




College, 2009), pp. 85-100 [Hebrew].


Israel Museum,” Studio Art Magazine, no. 141 (March 2003), p. 34 [Hebrew].

)‫ (פרט‬,)"‫ ("שולחן ארוך‬2001

2001 (“Shulkhan Aroch”), (detail)

120”120 ,‫אקריליק ועיפרון על דיקט‬

Acrylic and pencil on plywood

)27 '‫ תל אביב (ר' קט‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

120x120, collection of Oli Alter, Tel Aviv (see cat. 27)


Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

almost asthmatic. In this sense he was truly aware

If we dare to point at the negative space as

of working both inside and outside a culture

the locus of the sublime, what purpose, then, does

immersed in images, and knew the importance

its positive rival serve? What do the contours of

of applying a strategy of suspicion with respect

the jar or the couple denote? It would be easy to

to images.

associate them with a set of symbols, such as love

It is in the very act of throwing out almost

in the case of the couple or fertility in the case of

all the requisites and scaffolds identified with

the jar. Lavie himself explained the jar as a sign

art, in the empty spaces of his paintings, in the

in Sarit Shapira’s 2003 essay. The jar, he said, is

folds between child-like images, scratches and

“one of the most common images of painting

scribbles, and above all—in the act of raising (a

throughout history, which to this day serves as a

better word will be the German Aufheben) his

model in amateur painting classes—and therefore

art beyond its own image that an entity enters

is also an image of painting itself.”14 Shapira also

the surface of the work which I—with all due

reminds us of Ingres’s The Source from 1856, a

respect and a decent portion of irony, and to the

work well-known to Lavie, where a woman

horror of the artist himself—would describe as

balances a jar on her shoulders; but it is in another

the Israeli Sublime. This therapeutic element is

painting by Ingres, Vénus Anadyomène (‘Venus

very different from the American Sublime which

Rising from the Sea’), on which he worked from

was cinemascopic in both scale and intention,

1808 until 1848, where the woman attains the

tending toward a certain decorum and pathos.

very same contrapposto without the jar, the same

This Israeli sublime has more of the silence of

posture that Picasso used for the central figure

John Cage than the oily seraphic voices of John

in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon of 1907, a posture

Tavener, and the very mention of the term

paradigmatic of the representation of the female

“sublime” suffices to make us blush. Nevertheless,

nude going back to Apelles. In the economy of

it is difficult to avoid its presence, and the ways

signs engulfing art, the jar, then, is a metonymy,

in which it influences the aesthetics it demands.

a token of the woman’s naked body laying bare

In this Hester Panim—the hiding of the face, to

its erotic radiation, and Lavie’s use of it, like a

borrow a Jewish theological concept denoting

letter to a distant beloved, is characteristic of the

the absconded God, and in contradistinction to

way in which he borrows from that circulation,

Lavie’s quintessential secularity—lies, I think, the

applying it to his own needs. Lavie admitted that

rebus-like quality of his art.

the jar to him was a woman.15

14. In Shapira 2003, note 9, p. 262 n. 288. 15. Ibid., p. 263.

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

The skirting of the erotic iconography, as by

name from 1902. They are nearing Brancusi’s Kiss,

and as such, it is highly congruent with the rest

an unmediated affinity with the world, an

turning the woman into a jar, did not prevent

but more in the way their arms are interlocked,

of his method. By applying a child-like aesthetics

association unblemished by experience.

many from identifying a fullness of erotic

and less in the way Brancusi’s lovers melt into

to the couple, as to all his motifs, they gain

Some of these notions were presumably on

expression in Lavie’s images: in his couples, in the

one another. Lavie’s couple has its genealogy in

the status of a paradigmatic Adam and Eve.

Lavie’s mind as well when he started employing

rounded forms and wavy lines, in the scribbles

another domain, in a lineage attributed to the

Through their child-like rendering they become

the child-like aesthetics, but I doubt that they

taken as an expression of the libidinal, in the

kiss of St. Anne and St. Joachim in The Meeting

prelapsarian, devoid of sexual drive, devoid of an

stemmed from the same logic which guided Klee,

symbolism embedded in the works. There is a

at the Golden Gate at the Arena Chapel in Padua

erotic aura. By avoiding this erotic iconography

Dubuffet, and Miró. Children use ideograms

certain truth to such an assertion in so far as it

from 1304, in the face-to-face scenes in Piero Della

habitually attached to such a motif, the emphasis

as their natural way to grasp the world. It is a

is difficult to produce a painting lacking in erotic

Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross frescoes in

turns toward their ideographic expression.

shorthand mode where concentration on the

aura because the very act of putting materials on

Arezzo. This lineage leads also to James Barry, in

Discussing the couple, which he designated

essential compensates for skill limitations, and

a surface, the ductus reassuring us of the artist’s

his Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida (ca. 1800), and

heads, Yair Garbuz wrote: “They [the heads

this concentration also shortens the distance

physical presence, is already a highly sensual fact.

from there to Marc Chagall and his Pair of Lovers

and kiss paintings] are never portraits. They

between content and sign. That sign equals

In Lavie’s case, however, the erotic seems

from 1916. This confrontational mode creates a

are simple, yet multi-faceted, and as with other

content means that a person beyond childhood

to be systematically avoided, and a legion of

resemblance to Paris Bordone’s Venetian Lovers

games invented by Raffi about himself, they have

must be aware when employing a method that

defense mechanisms is put into action to prevent

from 1525, and to Palma il Vecchio in his painting

laws which generate a necessity… Two heads

programmatically annihilates this distance, and

its appearance, at least on the conscious level.

of Jacob and Rachel from 1515-25.

close together create, as we know, a chalice

that by this annihilation he will be free of all

His art is puritanical; saving on myth and means,

I have mentioned all these examples not

which, in Raffi’s case, is transformed into a jar.

the supplements that such a method gives up. In

the art of a “priest, poor and bitter,” as he once

because they show a mutual understanding of

Heads without flesh, yet by no means skeletons.

one of his early works from 1967 Lavie inserted

ironically commented about himself.16 What does

a certain emotive stance between couples, but

They are road signs—the road that enters, and

a note on which he wrote, among other things:

this lack mean? Is it that once the sublime enters,

because, as in the case of Lavie’s couple, they

the one that exits, and the cul-de-sac, and the

“Please do not read what is written here.” Why

the erotic exits, because the horror of the two is

address an event that is pointed out by its very

way of a man with a woman.”

not read? Because the sign and its content are


avoidance—a kiss that either never happened

Child-like drawings and the use of ideographic

one, and because no barrier separates the two.

The couple, a recurrent motif in the works,

or did happen, not on the surface of the work

methods are highly connected. Lavie employs

The same logic was at his service when he was

was described by Lavie as a depiction of himself

but in our imaginations. It is, once again, about

this aesthetic for very different reasons from

asked the meaning behind the picture, and said

and his wife Ilana. He called them “the kissing

something that is not visualized, yet all its

those of Paul Klee, Joan Miró or Jean Dubuffet,

that behind the picture there is a wall, or so the

couple,” although only seldom are they depicted

requisites are there to perplex our notions about

who saw in such aesthetics a way to reconnect

story goes.

in the act of a kiss. They are a far cry from the

what actually is happening—what we see, and

art to the natural world and commune with

There are many more benefits in using

erotic passion conveyed by Auguste Rodin’s

more importantly, what cannot be visualized. The

it while concurrently breaking with Western

ideograms as a basic vehicle in keeping the

lustful couple, Gustav Klimt’s pair in The Kiss of

couple is a device in art’s arsenal used by Lavie to

tradition. In short, they thought about a certain

surface clean of appropriated subjects. Thus, for

1907, or Edvard Munch’s woodcut by the same

enhance his method of a negative appearance,

type of authenticity, about children having

example, Lavie uses signs that are part of the

16. A phrase borrowed from an inscription in Hadas Tamir’s


17. Yair Garbuz, “Regarding Raffi: Stain Crown Ketchup

work hung in his apartment. See: Dana Gilerman, “Priest,

Love,” Regarding Raffi, The Midrasha 2 (Journal of the Art

Poor and Bitter,” Ha’aretz, 5 May 2007 [Hebrew].

Teachers’ Training College, Beit Berl Academic College), ed. Naomi Siman-Tov (May 1999), pp. 66-67 [Hebrew].

Raffi Lavie

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,)‫ (פרט‬2005

2005 (detail), acrylic and

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

pencil on plywood, 122x122

)34 '‫אוסף פרטי (ר' קט‬

Private collection (see cat. 34)



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

national heritage, such as the Star of David, the

to his home, friends, students. I assume that he

Menorah, and later—a bearded man who may

knew what richness is wasted when one does not

easily be identified with the figure of the Jew. This

concentrate on the essential, and that this kind of

led some critics to regard these manifestations as

approach is the right one considering his culture

an illustration of antithetical ideologies battling

and place. No visual expression other than the

on the surface of the picture. Such was the

ideographic could be better suited to this kind of

interpretation given by Shva Salhoov to a group

world management.

of works entitled Arab—Violet Moustache from

If the ideographic use in the child-like images

2004-05, which she regarded as the “dramatic

shortened the way between content and sign,

encounter of the two great histories to which

it may be seen independent of interpretation

modernism gave birth: the history of Nationalism

foreign to the scenarios revealing themselves

which is also that of Fascism, and the history

on the plywood, thus pushing iconographical

of modern art, which is also the history of the

expressions to be of secondary importance. If the

struggle for freedom.”18

notion of depth as a value was ridiculed by Lavie

I am very much in doubt whether such an

time and again long before post-modernism

agenda was on Lavie’s mind when he created the

roamed the earth, to what context, then, could

series. He was not that kind of political artist, and

they be attributed? In avoiding the grand

when he did launch a political statement, as in

narratives or the iconoclastic approaches such

the case of Rabin’s assassination, he did not need

as those employed by Klee, Dubuffet, and Miró,

bypasses to put his opinion on the picture surface,

what end did such a strategy serve?

and was very explicit in putting a blood-like stain

In Lavie’s rhetoric we observe a great irony

on Rabin’s image. I think he employed the signs

and a greater shrewdness, the kind to which Irad

leading Salhoov to her dramatic statement the

Kimhi alludes when in the closing sentences of

same way one collects tribal signs as collective

his article about the artist he says that Lavie’s

paraphernalia accompanying one through life,

basic gesture is that of unlimited shrewdness.19

from childhood to death, and obviously, during

Conscious of all the forces around him, whether

this long journey, these signs are also treated

Western tradition or his own Jewish and Israeli

ironically. It seems to me that he was not a man

heritage, well-aware of the double peripheries,

of ideologies, but a man of ideas, and these were

or even diasporas, in which he roams, he takes

consciously limited to his immediate surroundings,

upon himself the role of the artist, while

18. Shva Salhoov, “Ich bin nicht/ich bin: In den

19. Irad Kimhi, „A Painter of Modern Life,“ Studio Art

Fussstapfen Gemäldegruppe ‘Araber—Lila Schnurrbart’

Magazine, no. 141 (March 2003), p. 29 [Hebrew].

(2004-05),” cat. Raffi Lavie: Gemälde 2003-2005 (Tel Aviv and Berlin: Givon Art Gallery and Galerie Asperger, 2005), p. 54 [German].

Raffi Lavie



Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

concurrently ironicizing it. He paints as if he were

theretofore, is given free reign. The paintings

Parliament hall.”20 Far from being a tribute to

through ladders and angels, is the place where

an artist painting as if he were a child, and this

are still ideographic in style, but more condensed

another artist, Lavie launches an act of cleansing.

things matter, where they levitate from the

double “if” is also marked by the rebus quality.

and colorful.

It is as if he wants to bring back a primary quality

surface of the painting and begin their own

Ultimately, we confront beautiful paintings,

It is difficult to think of an artist farther from

shared by both, to save Chagall from himself,

lives; the space where art, or whatever name you

seemingly accidental in their success to please the

Lavie than Marc Chagall, whose Jewish imagery,

to save his colors from their fatal narrative, and

choose to give it, truly becomes autonomous.

eye, and as such, they are true treasures having

bordering late in his life on clichés, stood in

reassert them in the rightful order.

been destined for other prairies.

opposition to all notions of contemporary

Two works in the “Chagall” series, both from

are indeed such mediators of that space.

The ladders and angels in Lavie’s paintings

Thus, Lavie takes a reverse procedure.

aesthetics. Laboring on such imagery has been and

2003, are mirror images, at least in terms of

Traditionally, they are religious agents. Along

Reality, as it appears on the surface, is already

still is considered anachronistic, narrative-oriented,

colors and motifs [cat. 31, 32]. In both of them

with the Star of David and Menorah signs, they

a symbolized reality, extracted, adapted, and

even obscene in its sentimentality. The last thing

the surface is divided horizontally; in one—the

create an illusion of a religious vocabulary.

not in need of interpretation that will unearth

you would want as an Israeli artist is to be buried

lower part is painted red, and on the higher plane

Not only are they well-embedded as narratives

a depth, and therefore a value. The ideographic

under irrelevant longings, thus missing your place

the flower signs are green, whereas in the other,

in the history of art, they are also the primary

grammar, as it appears in Lavie’s works, begs

in the beating heart of the Now. Still, it is the

the colors are inversed. This categorical division

religious signs used by children (in Israel), and

not to be interpreted but to be imagined. Think

same Chagall to whom Lavie refers, even putting

echoes the paradigmatic divide exhibited in the

therefore indoctrinated as signifiers of a vogue

about the grave painting at Paestum, and you will

his name in block Hebrew letters on some of the

icon of modernity, The Large Glass by Marcel

religiosity. If Jacob’s ladder fascinated artists such

see a very similar procedure where symbolism is

painting surfaces as if to be sure that the point

Duchamp who said that The Glass is not meant

as Rembrandt, Johann Weigel, William Blake,

already given, but imagination only begins.

gets across. Lavie the necromancer brings Chagall

to be looked at, that is, not to be conceived

Bartolomé Murillo, and Marc Chagall, and the

back from the dead, forcing his main icons—the

as a retinal image, but to be accompanied by

depiction of angels—a legion, the same symbols

couple, the flowers, the ladder, the Menorah,

a literary text as amorphous as possible, a text

within Israeli culture have a meaning which

and the violin—to breathe again, all this in a

which never takes form, and these two features

surpasses religiosity, pertaining to a political

grand mutative manner which, while ironicizing

were to complement one another. Above all,

ethos as well. Lavie’s choice of these images is

the source, enacts a process of deconstruction

each was meant to prevent the other from taking

therefore accurate. They are the ideal objects,

which explains the choice of the child aesthetic

an aesthetic-plastic or literary solitary meaning.

culled from the religious paraphernalia, on

Between 2003 (or slightly earlier) and his death in

as an ideographic tool for deconstructing images,

Duchamp was very keen on emphasizing the third

which he can perform the act of deconstruction

2007, Lavie created a body of works which could

and which, in the case of the “Chagall” group

space created between two modes of perception.

to make room for that secular sublime, adapted

be crudely divided into several series. These are

[cat. 33], is revealed as a didactic measure. Ory

Lavie understood this space as a Jastrowesque

to different purposes. By deconstruction I do not

the “Chagalls,” as he called them, the Arab-Violet

Dessau deemed this evocation a generous act.

figure—the very space we described as a negative

refer to the Derridean concept, but rather to a

Moustache, and subsequently the white, red, and

“Lavie’s Chagall,” he says, “is the Chagall of the

space, the one between the figures, the one

simpler linguistic use, the act of a craftsman who

black series. In all these works a change occurs,

history of modern art, of the École de Paris, and

inside the jar once its contours become irrelevant.

takes an object apart in order to improve it. An

and visual richness which was highly restricted

not that of the surrealistic kitsch decorating the

That space between heaven and earth, mediated

insight which has its didactics.

Part IV in which a change occurs, putting previous notions in great doubt

20. Ory Dessau, “Lavie and Gershuni Together Again,”

Globes, 18 November 2003 [Hebrew].

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,)‫ (פרט‬2003

2003 (detail), acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

)33 '‫אוסף פרטי (ר' קט‬

Private collection (see cat. 33)

Raffi Lavie



I would like to go back to the group

flowers is secondary to their color scheme in the

entitled Arab—Violet Moustache. Many of the

painting sphere—they are more maculae than

paintings portray the image of a man with a

stains or clots, to borrow Roland Barthes’s terms

violet moustache and a beard, red or black or

in his description of Cy Twombly’s paintings.22 In

both. Sometimes depicted in profile, he has a

other words, they are events restricted in their

cigarette in his mouth, and is accompanied by

coherence to the language of painting, and not

other previously known motifs—the couple, the

the language of symbols. This is a lesson Lavie is

jar, the smoke, and the flowers. An Arab with a

careful to repeat throughout his oeuvre. This is

cigarette and a moustache is a figure of great

not to say that Lavie did not have his pleasures

temptation, and Lavie, in preparing this narrative

in hearing interpretative explanations, but they

trap, is well-aware of this, being experienced in

were secondary and negligible to him. In this

the interpretative mode of his public. What could

sense, presenting the painting with its own tools

be more politically incorrect, more endearing,

was also an introduction of an ethical value,

than a self-portrait cum the great Other via a

political even.

discourse steeped in post-colonial desires? David



That the figure is about painting rather than


an illustration to a grand narrative critique is

research, rejected such interpretations.21 I concur

also conveyed by its design, when, en face, its

with him on this point. The title is indeed a trap

ideographic character often collapses and its

and a caprice. The figure, reduced to its basic

features disintegrate into strokes, stains, lines,

ideographic characteristic, is expressionless, save

and scribbles. In profile, he looks bored enough

the moustache which is pulled down, lending the

and indifferent to something not in the picture.

face a melancholic air. There are lines extending

In both cases, his eyes are at the center, where

from his eyes, triangles which are remnants of

the vanishing point, once a Star of David,

the Star of David, metamorphosed into a net of

converges. He might be the end product of the

coordinates and vanishing points [cat. 15, 23, 28,

act of looking, enacted by a viewer other than us,

29]. We are in the land of painting, not theory.

or the source of looking at something denied us.

We are forced to contemplate the exact tools

This means that there is always an event taking

required by our eyes to organize the space, and

place, but it is well-hidden from our perception,

make it coherent. The lines running from his eyes

and although Lavie would offer us all the tools

lead directly to a group of stains whose role as

leading to it, it still evades our eye. This is what I

21. David Ginton, “The Unsaid Name: What is Arab—Violet

22. See: Roland Barthes, The Responsibility of Forms:

Moustache?,” Please Read What Is Painted Here, (Hamidrasha

Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation,

School of Art, Beit Berl Academic College, 2009), op. cit.,

trans.: Richard Howard (Berkeley: University of

note 12, pp. 45-66 [Hebrew].

California Press, 1991), p. 179.

Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

Raffi Lavie



mean when I say that Lavie’s paintings are about

strikingly horizontal. While in Lavie’s work the

me of Emanuel Swedenborg , who wrote in his

a presence, painterly at that, which is not in

disintegration is almost immaterial and his angel-

1768 book Conjugal Love, that the soul of a

the paintings, and that is why, risking ridicule, I

cadaver is about to be dissolved into the plywood,

man and the soul of a woman who are (happily)

named it the Israeli Sublime.

the body of Holbein’s Christ, in its realistic state of

united by marriage enter heaven and become

If the “Arab” series was still faithful in parts to

rigor mortis, disintegrates according to the laws of

an angel. Thus, the angel above and the couple

the ascetic procedure, the final three groups, the

nature. Holbein’s Christ and Lavie’s cadaver, two

below, connected by the ladder, are two aspects

red, black, and white series, are saturated in color,

extreme poles, are two grand gestures echoing

of one apparition. Not that Lavie necessarily read

rich and enriching in their effect. In comparison

each other. They are also two great examples of

that book, but such a story is ever so consoling.

to earlier works, they are almost Baroque in

secularizing symbols and harnessing them in the

character. It is not clear whether at this point Lavie

service and terms of the painting.

There are many topics, motifs, periods, and paintings left out of this short article due to the

knew he was terminally ill, and how it might have

There is another famous angel in the history

want of space. I am still at loss for words which

influenced his paintings. But such knowledge

of art, Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, created in

could not only enact the right ekphrasis, but



1920. Starting as an almost jovial figure, child-like

also explain what was in him that made his art

who tend to identify in the paintings signs of

and innocent, he turns, once Walter Benjamin

so crucial and true to the way we understand

departures and the fear of death; to comprehend

supplied him with an auratic text, into one of

our world, by which I mean the one surrounding

them as a requiem. Indeed, the figure of the

the most tragic figures in modern consciousness.

us in its immediacy, under the burning sun of

angel, the couple, and the ladder mutate toward

Benjamin, designating him the ‘angel of history’,

the Middle East. Any text concerning Lavie will

such an understanding, for they are frequent and

matures him through a process of catastrophes,

inevitably re-tell the histories of the clan, and will

develop close relations among themselves. In two

but both angels, Klee’s and Lavie’s, start from

have to deal with matters of ascetic approaches,

works, one belonging to the red series, the other

a very similar source which is ideographic in

cultural restrictions, and the act of going against

to the white, the angel hovers horizontally at the


the grain—all these chained to the histories of art.




top of the picture, while a ladder leads to him, with the couple at its foot [cat. 8].

Raffi Lavie: In the Name of the Father

Why does the angel look down at the

Adam Baruch once wrote a sentence concerning

couple? What are the relations denoted by this

Lavie that puts things in the proper perspective.

This angel, who was and maybe is a cadaver

secular trinity (there is a ladder as well)? The

He said: “In a hundred years things will straighten

(per Lavie’s own description) and has its roots

couple, always representing the artist and his

up, and on a sunny Saturday a family will go out

in Arie Aroch’s images, reminds me of the most

wife Ilana in the paintings, is hugging, but the

and visit the ‘Raffi Lavie Museum’.” Four years

famous cadaver in the history of art, and I am

presentiment produced by our knowledge of

later he changed the number of years to fifty.23

referring to Hans Holbein the Younger’s 1521

impending death sees the hug as a farewell and

This tells you something about hope and wishful

painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the

departure. In this configuration, the angel is part


Tomb, now at the Basel Museum. Both images are

of a rebus, or so I would like to think. It reminds

23. Adam Baruch, “Starless Night”, Regarding Raffi,

The Midrasha 2, note 17, p. 25 [Hebrew]. The second version appeared in: Adam Baruch, “Raffi Lavie. A Bit of Hysteria, Please,” Ha’aretz, 19 May 2003 [Hebrew].

Raffi Lavie: Visual References



Palma il Vecchio, Jacob and Rachel, c. 1520-25

Auguste Rodin The Kiss, 1901-4

Hans Holbein, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, 1521

Paul Klee Angelus Novus, 1920

Bi ogra phi ca l N ote s

‫ י ע ק ב‬,‫פלמה איל וקיו‬ ‫ בקירוב‬1520-25 , ‫ו ר ח ל‬

‫אוגוסט רודן‬ 1901-4 , ‫ה נ ש י ק ה‬

1521 , ‫ י ש ו ה מ ת‬,‫הנס הולביין‬

,‫פול קליי‬ 1920 ,Angelus Novus

Born in Ramat Gan, Israel, 1937; lived and worked in Tel Aviv; died in Tel Aviv, 2007

1954-55 Studied drawing with Ludwig Moss 1959-60 Studied at the Midrasha – State Art Teachers’

Training College, Tel Aviv (with Kosso Eloul, Dan

Edvard Munch The Kiss IV, 1902

James Barry, Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida c. 1800 ‫ י ו פ י ט ר‬,‫ג'יימס ברי‬ ‫וג'ונו על הר אידה‬ ‫ בקירוב‬1800

‫אדוארד מונק‬ 1902 , ‫ה נ ש י ק ה‬

Hoffner, and Abba Fenichel)

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres The Source, 1856


College, Tel Aviv-Herzliya-Ramat Hasharon, and subsequently—The School of Art, Beit Berl Academic

Arieh Aroch, Red House (How Are Things at Home?), 1960

Constantin Brancusi The Kiss, 1908 ‫קונסטנטין ברנקוזי‬ 1908 , ‫ה נ ש י ק ה‬

‫ ה ב י ת ה א ד ו ם‬,‫אריה ארוך‬ 1960 , ) ‫( מ ה נ ש מ ע ב ב י ת‬

of Art and Design, Jerusalem 1978

Dizengoff Prize for Painting and Sculpture (with Eliyahu Gat), Tel Aviv Municipality

‫ ה א ו ה ב י ם‬,‫פריס בורדונה‬ 1500-71 , ‫מ ו ו נ צ י ה‬

‫מארק שאגאל‬ 1916 , ‫ז ו ג א ו ה ב י ם‬

Marcel Duchamp The Large Glass, 1915-23

Gustav Klimt The Kiss, 1907-8 ‫גוסטב קלימט‬ 1907-8 , ‫ה נ ש י ק ה‬

Giotto, The Meeting at the Golden Gate, 1305 ‫ ה פ ג י ש ה‬,‫ג'וטו‬ 1305 , ‫ב ש ע ר ה ז ה ב‬

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres Vénus Anadyomène 1848

Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 ‫ ה ע ל מ ו ת‬,‫פאבלו פיקאסו‬ 1907 , ‫מ א ב י נ י ו ן‬

New Works, Noemi Givon Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv


New Works, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


Uri and Rami Nehushtan Museum, Kibbutz Ashdot

The Art Gallery, Kibbutz Cabri, Israel


Raffi Lavie: A Retrospective, The Museum of Israeli

Yaacov Meuchad, Israel; curator: Dorit Keidar

Art, Ramat Gan, Israel; curator: Meir Ahronson (cat.; text: Meir Ahronson) 1991

Heads & Jars, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

Works, 1985-1990, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv; W. Asperger Gallery, Knittlingen and Strasbourg (cat.; texts: Adam Baruch, Itamar Levy)


New Works, Mary Faouzi Gallery, Jaffa, Israel

Beyond Drawing, Galerie Marie-Louise Wirth, Zurich


Raffi: The Early Paintings, 1957-61, Tel Aviv Museum of Art; curator: David Ginton (cat.; text: David Ginton)

Marc Chagall Pair of Lovers, 1916 Paris Bordone, The Venetian Lovers, 1500-71

Hanoch Ron) 1985

College 1972-74 Taught at the Art Department, Bezalel Academy

A Selection of Paintings, The Tel Aviv Museum; curator: Sara Breitberg (cat.; texts: Sara Breitberg,

Was among the founders of the 10+ group

1966-99 Taught at the Midrasha – State Art Teachers’ Training

‫ז'אן אוגוסט דומיניק אנגר‬ 1856 , ‫ה מ ב ו ע‬


‫ז'אן אוגוסט דומיניק‬ ‫ ו נ ו ס ה ע ו ל ה מ ן‬,‫אנגר‬ 1848 ,‫הים‬

‫ ה ז כ ו כ י ת‬,‫מרסל דושאן‬ 1915-23 , ‫ה ג ד ו ל ה‬


One-Person Exhibitions—Selection


Rina Gallery, Jerusalem


Katz Gallery, Tel Aviv; curator: Yona Fischer


Katz Gallery, Tel Aviv


Collages – 65, Oil Paintings – 66, Massada Gallery, Tel Aviv


Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


Experiments in Sculpture & Objects, Sketch for a Film (20 minutes), Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


Paintings and Drawings, 1993-94, Givon Art Gallery,


Recent Paintings and Mini-Retrospective of Works

Tel Aviv on Paper, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv 2003

Raffi Lavie: Works from 1950 to 2003, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; curator: Sarit Shapira (cat.; texts: Yona Fischer, Sarit Shapira)


Arab—Violet Moustache, Paintings 2003-05, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv and Galerie Asperger, Berlin (cat.; texts: Ory Dessau, Shva Salhoov)


The Last, Not Least, Heavenly Paintings, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

Paintings 1970, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


21 Paintings, 1962-1972, The Israel Museum,

Recent Works, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


Works on Paper, 1961-69, Debel Gallery, Jerusalem


Raffi Lavie, Yudith Levin, Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem


Paintings, Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem


New Paintings and Shulkhan Aroch, Givon Art Gallery,

Jerusalem; curator: Yona Fischer (cat.)


Two-Person Exhibitions—Selection

Recent Works, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


Recent Works: Oil Paintings and Mixed Media,

Raffi Lavie and Yoav Efrati, Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv

Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv


New Works: Paintings, Video, Givon Art Gallery, Tel

Raffi Lavie, 1975-77, Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem


Early Works, Oil Paintings, and Drawings, 1960-61,

Debel Gallery, Jerusalem

Tel Aviv (with Yair Garbuz)

Aviv (with Moshe Gershuni) 2006

New Works: Raffi Lavie, Simcha Shirman, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

Raffi Lavie

Group Exhibitions—Selection



The Smallest Works of the 10+ Artists and Others,


Eye Contact, The Artists’ Studios, Tel Aviv; curator:

Sky, 1972, 8 min

Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

Yair Garbuz (cat.)

Lawn, 1972, 8 min


Perspectives on Israeli Art of the Seventies: The

The Other Side of the Street, 1973, 12 min

Geranium, 1973, 8 min, soundtrack: John Cage,


Three Young Artists, Rina Gallery, Jerusalem

10+: Flower Exhibition, Massada Gallery, Tel Aviv


Recent Acquisitions, Bezalel Museum, Jerusalem

Prints, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

Boundaries of Language, Tel Aviv Museum of Art;

61: Exhibition of Modern Art, Helena Rubinstein


10+: Exhibition in Red, Katz Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

curator: Mordechai Omer (cat.)

Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum

Animals, The Artists Pavilion (Painters and Sculptors

1962 1963 — —

Trends 1, The Levant Fair, Exhibition Grounds, Tel Aviv;

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; curators: Yigal Zalmona

Walking, 1974, 9 min

and Nirit Nelson (cat.)

Balcony, 1975, 11 min, soundtrack: Steve Reich

Not to be Looked At: Unseen Sites in Israel Today, The

Yonah Hanavi (St.), 1979, 12 min, soundtrack:

10+: The Nude, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

Today’s Form—Young Israeli Artists, Bezalel Museum,


10+: For and Against, 220 Gallery, Tel Aviv

Jerusalem (cat.)


10+ in Round, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

New Horizons, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel;

Young Artists Biennial, Paris; curator: Reuven Berman

curator: Yona Fischer


10+: 10+ on Venus, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

Time for Art – Center for Art, Tel Aviv; curator:

Calligraphy and Paint, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam;

10+ (The Mattresses), Dugit Gallery, Tel Aviv

Gideon Ofrat (cat.)

curator: Ad Peterson


Original Graphics by Rudulf Lehmann, Moshe Mokady,


Israel Museum, Jerusalem; curator: Sarit Shapira (cat.) 2002


The Return to Zion: Beyond the Place Principle,

Towards Cinema: The First Generation of Projected

Young Artists Biennial, Paris; curator: Haim Gamzu

Yohanan Simon, Igael Tumarkin, Raffi Lavie,

Images, Haifa Museum of Art; curator: Ilana


Art Israel: 23 Painters and Sculptors, Bezalel Museum,

Yehuda Wallersteiner, The Jerusalem International

Tenenbaum (cat.)

Jerusalem; Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, The Tel Aviv

Book Fair, Jerusalem

Humlebaek, Denmark; curators: Hugo Arne Buch

curator: William C. Seitz

and Yona Fischer (cat.) 1978

Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum (cat.) —

Art Israel: 26 Painters and Sculptors, travelling

Artist and Society in Israeli Art, 1948-1978, The


The Tel Aviv Museum —


Beersheba Museum, Israel

Contemporary Art, The Tel Aviv Museum; curator:

Ramat Gan Artists, Immanuel House, Ramat Gan, Israel

Sara Breitberg-Semel (cat.)

Trends in Israeli Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem;


curator: Yona Fischer (cat.)

Exhibition of Young Israeli Artists, Helena Rubinstein

Milestones in Israel Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem;

Zalmona (cat.) Ephraim Lifschitz, Pinchas Zinovich,

Tel Aviv

Yehezkel Streichman, Uri and Rami Nehushtan


10+: Large Works, Artists Pavilion (Painters and

Museum, Kibbutz Ashdot Yaacov Meuchad, Israel;

Sculptors Association), Tel Aviv (cat.)

curator: Ilana Teicher (cat.) —

Dizengoff House, Tel Aviv

Museum of Art; curator: Benno Kalev (cat.) —

The Birth of ‘Now’: Art in Israel in the 1960s, Ashdod Art Museum / Monart Center, Ashdod, Israel; curators: Yona Fischer, Tamar Manor-Friedman (cat.)

Near and Apparent—Connections and Contexts:

Benno Kalev (cat.) —

The Want of Matter: A Quality in Israeli Art, The

Van Gogh in Tel Aviv, Rubin Museum, Tel Aviv; curators: Carmela Rubin, Edna Erde, Shira Naftali (cat.)

John Byle, Lea Nikel, Raffi Lavie, Shlomo Vitkin,

Artists Painting Fashion: 10+ on Textile, Maskit Gallery,

Association), Tel Aviv

10+: The Ten Plus Group—Myth and Reality, Tel Aviv

Open Museum, Tefen Industrial Park, Israel; curator:

The Autumn Exhibition: Israeli Artists, Helena

Collage, Artists Pavilion (Painters and Sculptors

and Yigal Zalmona (cat.) 2008

A Selection from the Benno Kalev Collection, The

Grupius-Bau, Berlin; curators: Doreet LeVitte Harten

Kunst in Israel 1906-1985, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; curator: Yigal


Die Neuen Hebräer: A Century of Art in Israel, Martin-

curator: Yigal Zalmona (cat.)

Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum (cat.) Rubinstein Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum (cat.)

Two Years, 1983-1984: Israeli Art, Qualities Accumulated, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for

Hazeret, Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv; curator: Ory Dessau

Collection C. Majorkas: Contemporary Israeli Art,

curator: William C. Seitz (cat.)



Mitz (Petel) [(Raspberry) Juice], 1970, 4 min,

Tel Aviv Museum; curator: Sara Breitberg-Semel (cat.)

soundtrack: Karlheinz Stockhausen

Art a Israel: Mostra De Pintura Conemporania, Centro

Sheets, 1970, 20 min

The Autumn Exhibition: Israeli Artists, Helena

de la Ciudad, Madrid; Palau Robert, Barcelona;

Candies, 1970, 4:30 min, soundtrack: Karlheinz

Rubinstein Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum (cat.)

curator: Yigal Zalmona

Philip Glass —

Stockhausen, Momenta (1965 version)

Sunset, 1981, 17 min, soundtrack: Vito Acconci, Niccolò Paganini, Steve Reich, the voices of Yair Garbuz, Siona Shimshi, and Igael Tumarkin (DVD version: 14 min)

Home Movie, 2003, 5:12 min, soundtrack: John Cage, Laurie Anderson

Balcony Movie, 2003, 3:22 min, soundtrack: David Avidan reading his poem “Sanction” (1962)

Yona at Bezalel, Bezalel Gallery, Tel Aviv; curators: Sarit Shapira, Sandra Weil (cat.)

Tel Aviv Museum; curator: Sara Breitberg (cat.)

exhibition in Israel, the United States and Canada, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York;

10 Artists from Israel, Louisiana Museum,

Museum, Beersheba; Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel; Tazpit: Exhibition of Israel Painters and Sculptors,

radio program

Association), Tel Aviv —


Niccolò Paganini, Raffi’s voice discussing sculpture in a

Good Kids, Bad Kids: Childliness in Israeli Art,

curator: Yona Fischer (cat.)

Museum; Museum of Modern Art, Haifa; The Negev

Biographical Notes

To t h e D i s t a n t B e l o v e d , Beethoven, or An Open Letter to H a a r e t z Editorial Board, 2005, 4:20 min

1+2 :‫בעמודים הקודמים‬

prev. pages:


‫ אקריליק‬,1998

1998, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק‬,2006

2006, acrylic and pencil

37”28 ,‫ועיפרון על רפרודוקציה‬

on reproduction, 37x28

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף בנו כלב‬

Benno Kalev Collection, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2006

2006, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק‬,2006

2006, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף שבלת ושות' עו"ד‬

Shibolet & Co. Law Firm Collection

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection



‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

collection of Oli alter, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק‬,2006

2006, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף תמנע רוזנהיימר‬

Collection of Timna Rosenheimer



‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2007

2007, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק‬,2006

2006, acrylic and pencil

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, collection

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

‫אוסף חגית ועופר שפירא‬

of Hagit and Ofer Shapira



‫ אקריליק‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

104”104 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 104x104

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון על סיבית‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil on formica

47.5”47.5 ,‫מצופה פורמיקה‬

coated fiberboard, 47.5x47.5

‫ תל אביב‬,‫באדיבות גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Courtesy Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף אורה ותמיר אגמון‬

Collection of Ora and Tamir Agmon


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli alter, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף ראב"ד‬

Raved collection

‫אוסף הללה טל‬

Collection of Hillela Tal


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2003

2003, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון על‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil on veneer

41.5”38 ,‫סיבית מצופה פורניר‬

coated fiberboard, 41.5x38

‫אוסף עדנה קוברסקי‬

Collection of Edna Kowarsky


‫ אקריליק‬,)"‫ ("שולחן ארוך‬2001

2001, (“Shulkhan Aroch”), acrylic

120”120 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

and pencil on plywood, 120x120

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli Alter, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2004

2004, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli alter, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2003

2003, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2003

2003, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli Alter, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2003

2003, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection



‫ אקריליק‬,2005

2005, acrylic and

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

pencil on plywood, 122x122

124”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 124x122

‫אוסף פרטי‬

Private collection

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli alter, Tel Aviv



‫ אקריליק‬,2003

2003, acrylic and pencil

‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2005

2005, acrylic and pencil

122”122 ,‫ועיפרון על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫אוסף אולי אלתר‬

Collection of Oli alter, Tel Aviv

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק ועיפרון‬,2002

2002, acrylic and pencil

‫ באדיבות‬,122”122 ,‫על דיקט‬

on plywood, 122x122, courtesy

‫ תל אביב‬,‫גבעון גלריה לאמנות‬

Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv


‫ אקריליק על‬,2004

2004, acrylic on veneer coated

47.5”54 ,‫סיבית מצופה פורניר‬

fiberboard, 47.5x54, collection of

‫אוסף חגית ועופר שפירא‬

Hagit and Ofer Shapira

Raffi Lavie Catalog for the Israel Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale  

Catalog of the Raffi Lavie show at the Israel Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009