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Gershuni, Moshe (1936–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

art israel aviv prize

Moshe Gershuni is a major Israeli artist.

PERSONAL HISTORY

Gershuni was born in 1936 in Tel Aviv, British-controlled Palestine. From 1960 to 1964, he studied at the Avni Art Institute in Tel Aviv. He later taught at the famous Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem from 1972 to 1977, and then at the Art Teachers Training College, Ramat ha-Sharon from 1978 to 1986. Gershuni now lives and works in Tel Aviv, and is one of Israel’s foremost artists. His works appear in museums both in Israel and throughout the world.

INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Once considered a minimalist-conceptual artist in his early artistic career, Gershuni has since 1981 become an expressionist painter whom some consider Israel’s most powerful artist. He is noted for his works that deal with war, Israel’s identity, and its morality. His works explore his, and Israel’s, Jewishness and sense of religiosity. Gershuni’s paintings are characterized by broad, almost violent brushstrokes of thick, bold colors, and often incorporate words and other graffiti written by the artist. His paintings thus confidently incorporate his own views about religion, politics, and what it means to be Israeli.

THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE

Gershuni is widely recognized in Israel for his work, and has received numerous awards over the years. These include the Aika Brown Prize from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1969); The Sandburg Prize from the Israel Museum (1982); the Minister of Culture Award for Painting and Sculpture (1988); the Eugen Kolb Prize for Israeli Graphic Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art (1989); and the prestigious Israel Prize, the nation’s top civilian honor, in 2003 (which he refused to accept). Gershuni has mounted numerous solo exhibitions around the world, including in 1966, 1986, and 1999 at the Israel Museum; in 1980, 1988, and 1990 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; in 1982 at the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, Germany; in 1983 at the Art Museum, Münster, Germany; in 1984 at the Jerusalem Print Workshop; in 1993 at the Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan; in 1997 at the Jerusalem Print Workshop; in 1998 at the Artists’ Studios Gallery, Tel Aviv; and in 1999 at the Centrum Yudaicum in Berlin.

Gershuni also has proven controversial in his home country. In 2003 he refused to accept the prestigious Israel Prize during the award ceremonies on Israel’s independence day because of his opposition to the policies of the government of Prime Minister ARIEL SHARON . The government then decided to strip him of the award, whereupon he sued to claim the prize money. The Israeli Supreme Court eventually ruled against him. He also was in the news when his marriage fell apart in the 1980s and he announced that he was gay.

LEGACY

Moshe Gershuni remains an active painter in Israel, and it is too early to assess his lasting legacy other than to say he is certain to go down in history as one of the Jewish state’s most influential artists.

BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Name: Moshe Gershuni

Birth: 1936, Tel Aviv, mandatory Palestine

Family: Former wife: Bianca. Two sons

Nationality: Israeli

Education: Avni Art Institute in Tel Aviv, 1960–1964

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

  • 1972: Teaches at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem
  • 1978: Teaches at Art Teachers Training College, Ramat ha-Sharon
  • 2003: Awarded Israel Prize
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