JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Beginning July 5, the Israel Museum will showcase Fauve and Expressionist paintings from one of the world’s most notable private collections of Modern art in the exhibition “Color Gone Wild: Fauve and Expressionist Masterworks from the Merzbacher Collection.” On view through November 2, the exhibition features works by major Fauve and Expressionist artists from high points in their careers, including paintings by Georges Braque, André Derain, Alexej Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse and Maurice Vlaminck, among others.
Fifteen years following the collection’s public debut at the Israel Museum, this exhibition provides a focused examination of 42 collection highlights, including important works acquired since then, all linked by a vivid use of vibrant color as a vehicle for emotional expression.
The exhibition reflects the Merzbachers’ aesthetic passions. Their interest in collecting was spurred initially by Gabrielle Merzbacher’s grandparents, staunch supporters of the avant-garde who amassed a small but stunning collection of Modern art. The Modern masterpieces on view in this presentation are unified by their brilliantly contrasting hues and energized brushwork. Though differing in subject matter, the paintings all demonstrate a freedom from the social and artistic conventions of their time and a vision of art as socially and spiritually transforming.
The exhibition opens with Fauve painting, leading then to the two groups of Expressionists, The Bridge (Die Brücke) and the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter), emphasizing the contemporaneous preoccupation of these painters with expressive color, bold brushstrokes and innovative composition.
Included in the exhibition are two keystones of the Merzbacher collection: “Blooming Trees,” 1909, by Karl Schmidt Rottluf and “Interior at Collioure,” 1905, by Henri Matisse. The acquisition of “Blooming Trees” marked a significant break in the Merzbachers’ earlier collecting practice, which initially favored works by Social Realists and colorful Impressionists. Shortly thereafter, the arrival on loan from Gabrielle Merzbacher’s parents of Matisse’s “Interior at Collioure” further established the foundation for the Merzbachers’ new collecting focus and fueled their search for seminal Fauve and Expressionist works, as well as paintings from related art movements.
Approximately one quarter of the works in the exhibition were purchased following the collection’s public debut in 1998 and have never been seen in Israel. Among the newly acquired works in the exhibition is Kandinsky’s “Two Horsemen and a Lying Person” (1909–1910), an early work that demonstrates the artist’s inclination towards abstraction with its bold simplification of figures and heightened use of color. Also on view are “Girl with Cat,” 1910, and “Two Nudes on a Blue Sofa,” 1910–20 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, which in their crude, nonnaturalistic depictions of contemporary bohemian life reflect the artist’s attempts to break from the traditional academic style of the age.
Another work that marks a shift in artistic practice is Maurice de Vlaminck’s “Potato Pickers,” circa 1905-07, an example of the artist’s trend towards “deconstructing” the physical landscape into violent streaks of color that convey a sense of motion. The exhibition will also showcase newly acquired paintings by Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde and Max Beckmann.
The museum is on Ruppin Boulevard, near the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). For information, 02-6708811 or www.english.imjnet.org.il.