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"This Great Sight" - New Exhibition


This Great Sight - Moshe Rosenthalis

An exciting new exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot opened in March 2013.
Moshe Rosenthalis (1922-2008) painted four monumental paintings (1978-1980) in which he depicted a visual narrative of the history of the Jewish People.
Beit Hatfutsot has taken upon itself to display these paintings to the Israeli public for the first time. Their size is enormous: six meters wide and a meter and a half in height. The exhibit aims to show Rosenthalis' sketches, preliminary drawings and cartoons that served him in preparation for the monumental work. Through them, spectators will follow an Israeli artist's fascinating creative process (for which he dedicated two years of profound research) in search of extraordinary images. The series of paintings' subject matter, strangely as it may sound, is a rare phenomenon in the history of Israeli public art.
The series' titles are arranged in chronological order:
  • The Exodus from Egypt
  • From the Inquisition until the Immigration to Jewish Palestine
  • From the Israeli War of Independence until the Settlement of the Negev Desert
  • Jerusalem
The paintings, commissioned by businessman Saul Eisenberg for the board room of  'Asia House' in Tel Aviv (1978), allowed only a small number of executives to see Rosenthalis' works which were never displayed publically.
The Israeli art community generally (and erroneously) assumes that visual narratives of Zionist dogmas automatically point to works commissioned and dictated by the political establishment. Consequently, such a notion assumes that the artist, responsible for the making of such works, succumbs to the dictation of the patron who commissioned the work.
In contrast, the content of Rosenthalis' History of the Jewish People was entirely envisioned by him, with no intervention whatsoever by Eisenberg, who commissioned the works, or anyone else. The artist envisioned the beginning of Jewish history in the Ten Commandments, received by Moses on Mount Sinai and given to the Israelites; he saw its final stages in the Zionist settlement enterprises of the Negev desert and the city of Jerusalem after 1967. His profound knowledge of Jewish culture and tradition enabled him to come up with an extensive array of visual motifs and images.
The four paintings of The History of the Jewish People are, no doubt, the jewel in the crown of Rosenthalis' artistic oeuvre, both realistic and abstract; they reflect the artist's vigor and artistic expertise. Shy and hidden for decades, due to the Israeli art community's command for abstraction during the 1960s and 1970s, the series' reappearance today makes for a fascinating artistic event. Rosenthalis was ahead of his time in creating his visual summary of the Israeli experience. The      public exposure to this exhibition, later to become part of the permanent display at Beit Hatfutsot, was long overdue for such a unique, monumental historical visual text.
The exhibition is displayed in collaboration with Rosenthalis House
Curator: Alec Mishory; Exhibition Initiator: Avner Rosenthalis; Director of the Curatorial Department: Smadar Keren