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Sculpture in Israel

With a rich culture, Israel is a perfect destination for art lovers. There’s so much to see: from numerous museums located throughout the country to a lot more. For most people, sculpture doesn’t come to mind when they think about Israeli art, but its popularity has been increasing in recent years. It can be explored by walking through Israeli sculpture gardens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem museums or visiting the countryside and small towns known as kibbutzim and moshavim.

A trip across the country offers a view of a lot of sculptures and a chance to stop and see them. One of the first sculptures visitors who get to Israel by plane notice is a figure reading a book at Ben Gurion airport. Below are some of the most famous sculptures you can see when traveling to Israel.

The Beginnings of Sculpture in Israel

The history of sculpture in Israel starts in 1906 when the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design was founded. It got its name after Bezalel, the chief artisan from the Hebrew Bible. He was the one in charge of building the Ark of the Covenant. The Bezalel Academy is located in Jerusalem. It belongs to the Hebrew University and is a part of the Mount Scopus campus. Back in 1906, it was founded by Boris Schatz, a famous Jewish artist. He was an artist with a vision of a unique national art style that would combine traditional Jewish and Middle Eastern art with European works.

Schatz, the sculptor himself, didn’t focus on sculpture back then. Instead, the spotlight was on painting and design. This may be because of the fact that Israel didn’t have many sculptors at the time. Most of them came from Europe as immigrants and worked under European influence, mixing various European styles with the national trends in Israel (known as the State of Israel since 1948).

Commemorative Sculpture

There are many sculptures devoted to commemorating historical events all around the state, both from its establishment in 1948 until the present and before it became a state. What’s true for many of these monuments is that they have been designed with a goal to remind people of remembrance. They represent valuable memories of historical events, especially tragic events, the most important one being the Holocaust. You can see such sculptures across the country, and they all serve to remind the biggest tragedy that ever happened to the Jewish people.

Yad Vashem Sculpture

Yad Vashem is the official memorial to the Holocaust victims and one of the most moving places you can visit in Israel. If you go to Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, you can visit it and explore the memory of six million murdered Jews. A walk through the museum allows you to see 20 outdoor sculptures made to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Some of the pieces you’ll see are The Warsaw Ghetto Square, the Yad Vashem Candelabra, and the Pillar of Heroism.

Sculpture at the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot

The memorial to the Holocaust at the Weizmann Institute, a famous public research university located in Rehovot, not far from Tel Aviv, was created in 1972 by Danny Caravan. A big bronze sculpture that represents a broken Torah scroll sitting inside a rectangular plaza, adjusted close to an edge of a white stone basis as if it could fall down at any moment. The piece is completed with a small stream of water that steadily drips down a crack in the base, symbolizing the tears of people that were killed. There’s also a Star of David and many numbers engraved on the broken Torah – the numbers represent the arm tattoos of the victims held in the camps. You can also see an inscription of the Shema’s first line, which is an important prayer in the Hebrew liturgy, the one that Jews traditionally say when they are close to death.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Sculpture Garden

In the sculpture garden of the Tel Aviv Museum, which was established in 1999, you can see more than 30 contemporary artworks created by sculptures from Israel and other countries. This is the museum’s permanent collection. If you want some peace and tranquility after spending a day in vibrant Tel Aviv, stop by the Lola Beer Ebner Sculpture Garden, made in memory of Dolfi Ebner. The garden sits among eucalyptus trees and provides a perfect stopping point after you get tired of the busy city.

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Mosaic is another sculpture that shouldn’t be missed. It also originates from 1999 and it was made by the Italian artist Enzo Cucchi. The path it forms links the upper and lower level. One more fascinating sculpture to check out was made by Israeli artist Yitzhak Danziger in 1963. Continuing to Nata’s Garden allows the visitors to see two more sculptures.

Join our private tours to explore the fascinating Israeli sculpture culture further.

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