The exhibition presents a selection of Menashe Kadishman's works produced throughout his career, principally in prints and sculpture. It features well-known works, together with others shown for the first time.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1932, Kadishman is one of Israel’s foremost artists and an Israel Prize laureate. He began as a sculptor during the 1950s, studying with the artists Rudi Lehmann and Moshe Sternschuss. Three works from that period, shown here, reveal his early interest in animals as a theme. Kadishman studied and worked in London from 1959 to 1972, a period when a new sculpture – abstract and geometric – flourished. He joined that field as a student of the renowned British sculptor, Anthony Caro.
By the 1960s and 1970s Kadishman had won international success, creating large-scale outdoor sculptures in Europe, the USA, and Israel. New artistic trends were taking shape at the time, challenging the traditional concepts of art by questioning the nature of sculpture and exploring the relationship between art and nature. In his environmental works, Kadishman was at the cutting edge of the new art form that blurred the boundaries between natural and artificial, shifting the starting-point of art – from depicting nature, to intervention in nature, such as ‘adding’ colour to the landscape. At the peak of that process, Kadishman exhibited a flock of sheep as a living art-work at
the 1978 Venice Biennale. From then on, sheep became a significant theme in his work.
Artistic prints have always had a major place in his oeuvre: both for documenting his sculptures and environmental works, and as independent development based on sculpture and enriched with colours and imagination. Prints and sculpture seem to have little in common as art forms. The one-dimensional print, on paper, with its relatively small scale, originates in the world of painting and printing, while sculpture is three-dimensional by nature, often monumental, and made of rigid, heavy materials. Yet when observing Kadishman’s work as a whole, it seems that sculpture and prints intersect at many points, as emphasised in the exhibition.
Alongside his paintings of sheep, in the 1980s Kadishman returned to sculpting in metal. The sheep motif led to ‘The Sacrifice of Isaac’ theme, which in turn gave rise to the ‘Birth’ sculptures, and others expressing human pain. They are created as silhouettes, cut from a steel panel, yet preserve the free lines of the artist’s hand. The two sculptures in the museum’s courtyard – ‘Motherland’ and ‘Hands’ – as well as theinstallation ‘Shalechet (Fallen Leaves)’ on the ground floor all attest to the emotional range in Kadishman’s work: bleak meditations on death, the gesture of a cry or a pray, and the yearning for the innocent, simple landscapes of childhood. We are grateful to the artist for the loan of his works to the exhibition.
Curator: Dr. Dalia Manor
Assistant Curator: Nirit Dahan
Menashe Kadishman: From Nature to Art
Editor: Dr Dalia Manor
Be'er Sheva municipality
Ministry of Culture and Sport