From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Avigdor Arikha (born April 28, 1929) is an Israeli and French painter,
printmaker, and art historian.
Avigdor Arikha was born to
German-speaking parents in Radauti, near Czernowitz, in what was then
called Bukovina, and is today in Romania. (See Romania during World War
II) His family faced forced deportation in 1941 to the concentration
camps of Western Ukraine, where his father died. He managed to survive
thanks to the drawings he made of deportation scenes, which were shown
to delegates of the International Red Cross. As a result of that, both
he and his sister were freed and brought to Palestine in 1944. Between
1944 and 1948, he was in the Ma'aleh Hahamishah Kibbutz. In 1948 he was
severely wounded in Israel's War of Independence. From 1946 to 1949, he
attended the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem; its
teaching was based on the Bauhaus methods. In 1949 he was awarded a
scholarship which enabled him to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in
Paris, where he learned the fresco technique. Since 1954, Arikha has
continuously resided in Paris.
In the late 1950s, Arikha
evolved into abstraction and established himself as an abstract painter,
but he eventually came to think of abstraction as a dead end. In 1965 he
stopped painting and began drawing, only from life, treating all
subjects in a single sitting. Continuing on this path for the next eight
years, his activity was confined to drawing and printmaking until late
1973, when he felt an urge to resume painting. His practice has remained
to paint directly from the subject, using no preliminary drawing,
finishing a painting, pastel, print, ink or drawing in one session. He
is noted for his portraits, nudes, still lives, and landscapes, rendered
realistically and spontaneously, but clearly bearing the lessons of
abstraction, and in particular of Mondrian. He has also illustrated some
of the texts of Samuel Beckett, with whom he maintained a close
friendship until the writer's death.
Arikha has painted a number of
commissioned portraits, including that of H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the
Queen Mother (1983), Lord Home of the Hirsel, former Prime Minister of
the United Kingdom (1988), both in the collection of the Scottish
National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Other portraits include those of
Catherine Deneuve (1990) for the French State, or that of the former
Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy for the city of Lille.
As an art historian, Arikha has
written catalogues for exhibitions on Poussin and Ingres for which he
was curator at the Musée du Louvre, the Frick Collection of New York,
the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Israel Museum Jerusalem. His
writings include Ingres, Fifty Life Drawings (Museum of Fine Arts,
Houston/Frick Collection, New York, 1986); Peinture et Regard (Paris:
Hermann, 1991, 1994); On Depiction (London: Bellew Publishing, 1995);
and numerous essays published in the New York Review of Books, The New
Republic, Commentaire, Literary Imagination, etc. He has also lectured
widely, at Princeton University, at Yale University, at the Frick
Collection in New York, at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and at many other
venues. Most recently, he was invited by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
in Madrid to select a number of works from its collection and to write
the entries for the catalogue accompanying the resulting exhibition.
From July 2006-January 2007
there was an exhibition at the British Museum of Arikha's bequest to it
of one hundred prints and drawings.
From June to September 2008 the
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid hosted a major retrospective
exhibition of the artist.
Arikha has been married since
1961 to the American poet and writer Anne Atik, most recently author of
a memoir on Samuel Beckett.