The Art Wing is currently closed to the public due to the comprehensive program of renewal at the Israel Museum.
Displaying the works of avant-garde artists in Jerusalem—an ancient city rich in history, cultures, and religions—and in the context of an encyclopedic museum with a great diversity of collections is a unique experience. Almost from the Museum’s inception, a policy of intensive activity in the sphere of international contemporary art was pursued. In 1982 the Department of Contemporary Art was established, characterized by an ongoing dialectic between exhibiting and collecting. Its holdings, which range from 1970 to the present, are continually being enlarged—thanks in great part to contemporary art acquisition committees established in several cities abroad—with emphasis on works by young artists at the beginning of their careers, focusing on installations and three-dimensional, video, and photography-based works. A dynamic visiting artists program encourages such talents while enriching the department’s exhibition program and its collections. The inauguration of the 20th Century Art Building in 1990 heralded a new era, as it provided the department with a spacious, skylit gallery of 1,200 square meters in which the display changed on a regular basis.
The contemporary art collection began to take shape in the early seventies and eighties, with works by such artists as Agnes Martin, Eva Hesse, Robert Mangold, Dan Flavin, and Robert Ryman, to name only a few. Museum anniversaries were always an occasion for significant gifts. During the Museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the collection was enriched by works by John Baldessari, Anselm Kiefer, Giulio Paolini, and Ed Ruscha, among others. The thirtieth anniversary celebration in 1995 was especially fruitful: works by Vito Acconci, Antony Gormley, Rodney Graham, Hans Haacke, Charles Ray, Bill Viola, Jeff Wall, and many more—over thirty important pieces in all—joined the art collection. Further acquisitions included works by Stephan Balkenhol, Fischli & Weiss, Robert Gober, Andreas Gursky, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, William Kentridge, Annette Messager, Mariko Mori, Yinka Shonibare, and Mark Wallinger. Some of our artists-in-residence—such as Christian Boltanski, Braco Dimitrijevic, Mario Merz, Joel Shapiro, Kiki Smith, and Rosemarie Trockel—have donated works created in Jerusalem, while Joseph Kosuth, Roy Lichtenstein, and Gerhard Richter are among the many other contemporary artists who have given major works to the Israel Museum.
Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Arts
The Landeau Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art