The Art Wing is currently closed to the public due to the comprehensive program of renewal at the Israel Museum.
The first modern art holdings of the Bezalel museum founded by Boris Schatz were primarily of academic painting by Jewish artists, but in time the museum’s collecting policy broadened to include works by modern Jewish and international artists. These were incorporated into the Israel Museum’s Department of Modern Art, whose holdings have been greatly enriched over the years and today constitute a collection of world-class proportions.
The collection of the modern art department extends from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. The earliest works, mainly Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and sculptures, are housed in one of the first galleries in the Museum to be lit by diffused daylight. Among the works on display are paintings by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. Nine paintings by Camille Pissarro, the only major Impressionist of Jewish origin, form the largest group.
Contiguous with Impressionism and Post-Impressionism is the collection of twentieth-century international art. Beginning with Cubism, the display traces the development of modern art through rooms devoted to such movements as Expressionism, the School of Paris, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop art. In each of these and in additional areas the collection has particular strengths, including more than 130 sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz, forty sculptures and reliefs by Jean Arp, fourteen oils by Pablo Picasso, and a major concentration of works of Dada and Surrealism, with special emphasis on Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Almost all the preeminent artists of the twentieth century are present with representative works, and the collection continues to grow through gifts of individual masterpieces and entire collections. The works reflect all the major modernist movements and artists, with a special interest in important Jewish artists.
In the realm of exhibitions, the modern art department is a kind of window onto the world, bringing to the Israeli public the finest in international art and artists. Many of these exhibitions have enjoyed record attendance, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from the country and abroad. The department also has an ongoing program of exhibitions from the collection and a visiting masterpiece program that brings individual Impressionist or Post-Impressionist masterworks from major world collections for display in Jerusalem.
David Rockefeller Senior Curator of Modern Art