Materials Matter: A Selection from the Museum’s Collection July 18 - October 14 2017
After six years of changing exhibitions, the Negev Museum of Art is proud to present an exhibition of works from the Museum's collection, displayed throughout its spaces. On show are works in different art forms - painting, sculpture, drawing, and printing, as well as video art.
The collection began taking shape gradually in the 1960s, when the Museum of Art was still a division of the Negev Museum of Archaeology. This may explain the strong presence of Israeli works from the 1950s and 1960s, which is also reflected in the current exhibition. Over the past few years, the collection has grown and more recent works have been added.
When an art museum exhibits its collection, as a permanent display or a temporary exhibition, its aspiration is to show the best items. Yet this selection always reflects cultural trends and the preferences of its founders and managers. In major museums, those preferences significantly influence the community of artists and the character of local culture. Can we identify those trends in a small, off-the-beaten-track municipal museum whose management changed frequently, and has no purchasing budget or collectors who contribute to it? The Materials Matter exhibition is an opportunity to ponder the essence and importance of a local museum. Does it have a distinctive character? Does its collection reflect deliberate processes or did it take shape randomly, echoing trends in central museums?
The displayed collection of the Negev Museum of Art reveals several characteristics: an extensive proportion is devoted to abstract art from Israel, in painting and sculpture, only a part of which is now located on the museum’s ground floor. In this, the collection reflects mainstream Israeli art from the 1950s to the 1970s, and it features some of the most renowned and prominent artists in the field. Yet as well as leaders, every artistic movement also needs artists who make the phenomenon a dominant one. Over time, they are marginalized and their work is rarely shown in the principal museums. The current exhibition offers an opportunity to recall their work and remember their contribution.
Another characteristic is the relatively large number of works engaging with landscapes, especially that of the Negev; they are displayed on the upper floor. That theme is highlighted in works that joined the collection recently, but is also reflected an earlier trend in the collection. The museum's aim is to underline the Negev’s importance in Israeli art – both as a source of inspiration with its dramatic landscapes, and as a site of industrial and agricultural experiments.
A significant part of the collection consists of works on paper, including drawings, watercolours, and prints drawing on various techniques. Several well-known international artists, as well as Israeli ones, specialize in prints, and in recent years, print has once again become a sought-after medium for contemporary artists. The exhibition also features sculptures using various techniques, plaster and paper, wood and bronze.
The exhibition is a refreshing opportunity to encounter works of diverse types, themes and techniques, from different periods of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century; to meet old and new acquaintances and to introduce all of these to Negev residents and Israelis as a whole as a source of experiences and to offer viewers food for thought.
Exhibition Curators: Dalia Manor, Nirit Dahan