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THE ART OF MORDECAI ARDON...

THE ART OF MORDECAI ARDON

Mordecai Ardon was born in Galicia (now Poland) and studied with Paul Klee at the Bauhaus in Germany during the 1920s. He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1933. He painted the landscape as a mystical and luminescent experience and paid homage to Jerusalem. He used symbols to memorialize those lost during the Holocaust and was one of Israel’s greatest painters.

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  • THE ART OF MORDECAI ARDONMordecai Ardon was the ‘DEAN’ of Israeli paintersVishny, M. (1973). Mordecai Ardon. N.Y.: Harry Abrams (All images and text are from this source, unless otherwise noted)
  • ELISHEVA BUXBAUM BRONSTEINMordecai Ardon’s mother was Elisheva Buxbaum BronsteinHe was born on July 13, 1896 in Tuchow, PolandYet, this is not his given name nor even his correct birthdateHis real name was Mordecai Eliezer BronsteinHe was called Marek in Poland and Max in BerlinHe took the name Ardon many years after he arrived in Israel
  • ALEXANDER BRONSTEINHis father was Alexander Bronstein His parents raised him in an Hassidic home1903-Age 7, he began (Bet Midrash (House of Study) He was a good student, who loved to gaze at the starsHis siblings called him the “Stargazer”1908-He studied Latin and Greek at the local monasteryHe recalled a dream that his father’s clocks pointed different hoursThis was the origin of his view that past, present, and future are one1917-Graduated Gimnazjium (high school) in Krakow In his father’s workshop he remembered: the hands of the different clocks used to show different hours, and as a child, he marveled that occasionally they all struck at the same timeArdon brings the past, the present, and the future together
  • MORDECAI ARDON AT THE BAUHAUS1919-Moved to Berlin and performed in theatresHe was impressed by artists in Berlin MuseumsHe had affinities with Chagall, rooted in their similar childhoods1920-Began painting in studio of friend, Arthur Segal, a cubist1920-24: He studied at the Bauhaus under Kandinsky, Klee, and Itten 1924-25: Bauhaus closed in Weimar and reopened in Dessau1926: He also studied in at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Munich
  • ROARING TIGER-Mordecai Ardon, 1922Charcoal on paper, 19 ½ x 24” Private collection. USA Ardon was in the class taught by Johannes IttenItten’s unconventional approach influenced this vivid characterItten thought that “heart and hand must be one” He had students ‘roar like a tiger’ before trying to draw one
  • MORDECAI ARDON-Paul Citroen1924-Married Miriam Banet1928-Son Michael was born and he moved to Berlin1929-33-he taught at Johannes Itten’s school in Berlin1933-Fled the Nazis and moved to JerusalemArdon’s work was influenced by Ernst, Kandinsky, and FeiningerHe was also heavily influenced by his teacher and friend, Paul Klee
  • MAN LEANING ON HIS ELBOW-Mordecai Ardon, 1930Oil on board, 28 x 24”Collection Dr. Michael Ardon, Jerusalem His work was influenced by Ernst and FeiningerHe was also heavily influenced by his teacher and friend, Paul KleeThere is a ‘glow’ that comes from withinThis came from many layers of glaze over a light underpaintingHe had seen El Greco’s paintings in MunichArdon was particularly attracted by his “divine and mystical light” This portrait is both representational and abstractIt has a frozen appearanceArdon mixed sand into the paint, giving a 3D effect in certain areasHe used both brush and palette knife1930-33-he taught at Johannes Itten’s school in Berlin1933-Fled the Nazis and moved to JerusalemArdon was deeply concerned with politics, especially the leftists 1933-he intended to go to Paris, but landed shipwrecked in Jerusalemhe drew from the literature and art of Sumer and Babylonia the Bible the Cabbala Hebrew illuminated manuscripts the dry rocks of the desert
  • IN THE HILLS OF JUDEA-Mordecai Ardon, 1934-35Oil on Canvas. 30 ½ x 39” Collection of Dr. Michael Ardon, Jerusalem Ardon fled Germany in 1933 to Eretz IsraelThe landscape engraved itself upon his mind and heartHe felt a mystical attachment to the Jerusalem hills and earthPreviously he had only painted figuresNow he began to paint landscapeArdon was a Communist and not a ZionistUntil1940s-landscapes of the Judean hills with mysterious lightHe made copious use of mystical elements He evolved a heavy symbolical Jewish aspect He viewed landscape as the scene of great events He did not view it as a description of nature He blended abstract and figurative elements He set his landscapes in an era of history
  • WOMAN SITTING AT A TABLE-Mordecai Ardon, 1936Oil on canvas. 44 ½ x 34 ½” Collection of Mrs. Miriam Ardon, JerusalemArdon fled Germany in 1933 to Eretz IsraelHe left in a hurry and did not have official emigration papers He was accustomed to the sophisticated, cosmopolitan city of BerlinJerusalem was provincial and surrounded by barren hillsHis wife and 4 year old son had remained in Berlin He decided to live on the Kibbutz KiryatAnavim, near JerusalemHe spent many years as a bee-keeper thereLater he began teaching in elementary schools1935: the New Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts openedArdon became a drawing instructor thereHis own painting reflected the “inner light” of the Old MastersThis is a portrait of his wife, MiriamArdon emphasizes the solid, three-dimensional appearance of the figureThe colors on the table are repeated in the tones on the wallThe whites of the hat and dress blaze with an inner lightThis is a result of many layers of color on the canvas1935-1952: teacher/director at the Bezalel School of Art, Jerusalem
  • SELF-PORTRAIT-Mordecai Ardon, 1938-39Oil on wood panel. 62.2 x 51.7 Ardon is clearly interested in the painterly qualities of this workHe is NOT trying to make a totally realistic paintingRather, he is trying to capture the energy and dynamism of himself
  • VALLEY OF THE CROSS-Mordecai Ardon, 1939Oil on canvas 37 x 50” Collection of Mrs. Hans Moller, Kfar Ata, Israel1936: He decided he wanted a Hebrew nameHe asked a historian to help him find one connected to BezalelThe Biblical Bezalel designed the Tabernacle and sacred vesselsFrom the Book of Chronicles they found: “And Caleb the son of Hezron begot children of Azuva his wife—and of Jerioth—and these were her sons: Jesher, andShovav and Ardon” Max Bronstein became Mordecai Ardon!
  • EIN KEREM-Mordecai Ardon, 1944Oil on canvas. 57 x 45The Israel Museum, Jerusalem1940: Ardon became the Director of the Bezalel school He wanted to encourage countrywide understanding of artTo that end, he made radio broadcasts1952-1963: Artistic Advisor to the Ministry of education He supervised Israel’s art educational programs He also managed other administrative tasksSeveral of Ardon’s 1940s paintings celebrate Ein KaremIt displays cream tones, pale reds and greensHere white blossoms sparkle on young teesThe upper part of the painting displays finely detailed brushworkThe foreground, with its larger brushstrokes, is more abstract
  • BETHLEHEM-Mordecai Ardon, 1943Oil on canvas 57 ½ x 45 ½” The Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, PittsburghGift of Mr. And Mrs. Charles J. RosenbloomBethlehem’s churches and mosques glow at nightfallHis former Bauhaus master Lyonel Feininger acclaimed this workHe was deeply impressed by its magical mood1945-His brother told him that all Polish relatives had all perished 
  • FISH AND MOON-Mordecai Ardon, 1946Oil on canvas. 18 ½ x 22 ½” Collection of Mrs. Hans Moller, Kfar Ata, IsraelColors are rich, luminous, and thickly paintedShapes are perfectly balancedThe circle of the moon repeats itself in the eye of the fishThis creates an interplay between their formsThe moon and the fish come from dreams and cast their spell on us Ardon created a mystical sensibility about Jerusalem prior to WWII Later he used literary symbols to convey his message of reality
  • STEPPES OF THE NEGEV-Mordecai Ardon, 1953Oil on canvas. 51/14 x 38 ½”Stedelijk Museum, AmsterdamThis painting vividly depicts a calf and a serpentBoth may refer to the Exodus and the story of the Golden CalfBoth rise from the dark, mysterious depths of the wildernessArdon may have thought of the Six-Day WarThis is when the Israelis again entered SinaiThe desert’s fiery heat can almost be felt in the glowing yellowsThe burnt oranges and reds bring the forms to life
  • THE GATES OF LIGHT-Mordecai Ardon, 1953Oil on canvas. 67 ½ x 45”Collection of Ayala Zacks, Tel AvivThe Gates of Light may have come from a book of the same nameIt was written by the 13th c. Cabalist, Joseph GikatilaIt is also one of the assumed names for the ZoharArdon searches for the hidden sparks in the most humble objectsHe seeks to unite them with the heavenly lightHis paintings are the pilgrimage of a modern mysticHe attempts to lift the veil, to reach the Gates of LightYet, he is not sure if there as anything to be found beyond them Search and creation are the substance of his pilgrimageThey are not religious pictures in the traditional sense
  • THE HOUSE OF THE MAGGID-Mordecai Ardon, 1954Oil on canvas. 57 7/8 x 46”Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels1947: Theme of ladders first appears1948: First one-man exhibition at the Jewish Museum, NYC1950s-He used rich textures and glowing colors They create the effect of light flickering from within 1951: First appearance of Cabalistic themes1952: Appointed Minister of Education and Culture in Israel1954: Wins UNESCO Prize at Venice BiennaleArdon used the vocabulary of abstract artHe was not satisfied with formal problems aloneLike others, he did not restrict himself to formal problemsSubject-matter was crucial to all of them He was on the track of the timeless, the numinousHe knew that he worked under the Biblical sky in the Biblical land
  • FOR THE FALLEN (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1955-56Oil on canvasStedeljk Museum, AmsterdamArdon created four triptychs, which crown his achievementsThis one, FOR THE FALLEN, was based on a 1937 trip to EuropeHe saw Picasso’s GUERNICA, which depicts the horrors of warArdon was seized by the feeling that “A painter must be ENGAGED in his paintings”To be “engaged” or “Involved” was a cardinal precept for himEarlier he had abandoned painting for political actionArdon now wanted to express his feelings of the events of the timesFurther, he wrote: “Painting, like writing, has to speak to people. Art is a message!”
  • FOR THE FALLEN (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1955-56Oil on canvasStedeljk Museum, AmsterdamLeft: The Traps. 1955. 60 5/8” x 52” This triptych was begun in the end of 1954 and completed in 1956The triptych format is a 3 panel format, commonly used as an altarpiece during the late medieval and Renaissance periodsA triptych provides the opportunity to develop a theme in 3 stages Ardon wrote a poem as “unarticulated beats” The traps were so big They were not to be seen Children played at paper soldiers And even the latrines had a heart Two huge bandages lay crosswise King of Spades here And King of Hearts there All Victory-arches limped along on stilts  And the tale of the overturned pram Was told no more A few chalk lines drawn by a child’s hand Was all that was left—a final remnant!! The drama begins in this panelIt depicts a landscape filled with numerous objectsIn the foreground are birdlike paper soldiers They are marching in circles as if hypnotizedHuge radar-equipped traps are set in their pathThe soldiers are like those Ardon made as a child of folded paperThey are powerless against the demonsYet they stand ready to march into battleSuspended over the traps are round military medalsThey dangle seductively to lure the soldiers to brave deeds 
  • FOR THE FALLEN (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1955-56Oil on canvasStedeljk Museum, AmsterdamCenter: The House of Cards, 1956, 60 5/8 x 103 7/8” This panel’s title came from the frail structure on the left sideThe cards repeat the shape of the latrine door in the previous panelOne of them reiterates the heart motifThe two opposing kings are depicted by playing cardsThey are set in opposite corners of the paintingThe queen sits in deathA cross is marked on one of the upper cards of her houseA birdlike soldier stands nearbyHe is the commander, who also was in the previous sceneThe rows of troops have been transformed into two giant bandagesThey are shaped like amputated legsThey roll forward over the bloody fieldTriumphal arches march on stiltsThey shed tears for the fallenTwo ladders lead to a split red and yellow moon in the distanceBoth monarch aspire to reach heavenThey thought it was attainable by conquering the earthBut the ladders now stand desertedIn the foreground a remnant of a CrucifixionIt is a wood fragment marked INRI (IesusNazarenus Rex Iudaeorum)It mourns the perpetual suffering of humanity
  • FOR THE FALLEN (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1955-56Oil on canvasStedeljk Museum, AmsterdamRight: The Unborn. 1956. 60 5/8” x 52” This panel displays a naïve drawing of freshness and simplicityIt is by a sophisticated artist who reached back to his childhoodThis is the climax of the triptychArdon said: “It is the drawing of a terror-stricken child who remembers the security of his mother even as he paints the ghastly reality around him.” The mother was once able to protect the childShe is no longer able to control the carriageIt has turned overThe moon, now diminished to a crescent, remains splitThe heavens are a poison greenBeneath the moon lies a cluster of veinsThe earth is bleeding
  • CLOWNS-Mordecai Ardon, 1958 Oil on canvas. 36 x 28 ½” Collection Ayala Zacks, Tel AvivArdon’s shapes and signs suggest something that exists potentially He makes visible what one does no seeArdon spiritualizes physical matterArdon began to use playing cards as symbols in the 1950sHe was a modern, mainly abstract expressionist painterHe used the painting techniques of the old MasterHis works contain Kabbalistic symbols, Hebrew and torn parchmentHe seems engaged in a desperate search for meaningThis search is for more consequential for him than for his mentorsArdon oscillated between figurative and abstract stylesHe remained very engaged with Jewish history and Israeli reality
  • TESTAMENT OF A DEAD LEAF-Mordecai Ardon, 1959Oil on canvas. 36 ¼ x 28 ¾” Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Neville Blond, LondonThis painting may be appreciated for its abstract qualitiesThese are the interaction of lines, shapes, colors, texturesIt is intended as a SIGN paintingThe signs are tiny red seeds, flowering trees, and a symbol of death It is inscribed on a parchment-like background at the bottomThese all hint at the mysterious secrets in the life of a leafThis is a sign language that Ardon invented, like his teacher Klee 
  • MISSA DURA (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1958-60Oil on Canvas.Tate Gallery, LondonArdon began this triptych two years after FOR THE FALLENThe Holocaust is the theme of this triptychThe title MISSA DURA means literally “hard mass”He wanted to convey dark, hard words of rebukeAs in a nightmare, image is surrealistically juxtaposed to imageThe viewer must unravel the episodesThe images are precisely drawnThey portray the disastrous eventsThey also include rich visual and literary allusionsThe 3 panels are built through the pairing of opposites, including: Good and evil Light and darkness Order and chaos Creation and destructionThe sheer beauty of the brilliant colors seduce our eyesThis somewhat masks the tragic content of the paintingArdon clearly intended thisHe says that no sadness is absolute: “even darkness is mingled with light” As with his earlier triptych, Ardon expressed himself in verseThe first line of his poem is “In the beginning were Knight, Newspaper and Decree” He marks the opening of the Nazi era by alluding to Creation
  • MISSA DURA (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1958-60 Oil on CanvasTate Gallery, LondonLeft: The Knight, 76 ¾ x 51 ¼”The title of the opening panel THE KNIGHT, is a reference to HitlerHitler thought of himself as a KnightThis was the Third Reich’s image of the ideal leaderHere Hitler appears as a knight in armorHis moustached features are barely discernible They’re in the face of the white body lying on the blue backgroundArdon refers back to a Bruegel paintingHe suggests that the Nazi dream of utopia is also a fool’s paradiseThe panel portrays the genesis of an anti-CreationThe multiplied images overhead announce the gathering of chaosInstead of light, there will be darknessInstead of good, evil
  • MISSA DURA (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1958-60Oil on CanvasTate Gallery, LondonCenter: Kristallnacht,76 ¾ x 102 ½”  Center: Kristallnacht, 76 ¾ x 102 ½” These elements of destruction continue in the center panelThe title refers to the 911 of 1938 throughout GermanyIt is also concerned with the evil of the Nazi periodThe dark background symbolizes the era of darkness All semblance of order is gone; images swirl through spaceThe Roman numeral XII refers to midnightThis is when evil spirits inhabit the worldImages on white cards indicate Hitler’s presence: The triple repetition of his mustache The triple repetition of a screaming mouth letters of his nameThe ninepins represent the JewsThey were targets in an evil gameThe top rung of Jacob’s ladder is an ironic imageThe scene appears to be heaven, but it’s hellArdon borrows Michelangelo’s hands of God and AdamThee are entangled by cordsThe hands show us that neither God nor man is freeThey are puppets bound togetherBullet homes pierce the holy parchmentsAbove is a fragment of Psalm 69, the Prayer of the Persecuted
  • MISSA DURA (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1958-60Oil on CanvasTate Gallery, LondonRight: House No. 5. 76 ¾ x 51 ¼”Bells from the first panel toll for the death of the victims hereThe house motif is repeated, though changedIt has now become a concentration camp building There is a crematorium in the lower part of the paintingIt replaces a quiet hearthPicturesque roof dormers disclose signs of the Final SolutionThe one small sign of hope; a woman staring our of her cellHer badge is the SefirotIt is a symbol depicting the spheres of divine emanationSome believe that God’s creative power resides thereOnce again, Ardon alludes to creation amid destructionThe holy and the satanic are linked together in a struggleThe focal point is the open window to the leftWhite candles rest in a pool of bloodDark stars appear above the chimneyTheir mystical formations spell out the fate of the Six MillionIt is a fate beyond our comprehensionArdon used tragic symbols of the Holocaust--withered flowers, dead birds, extinguished candles, etc. with quasi-surrealistic Kabbalist and mystical symbols
  • SCROLLS-Mordecai Ardon, 1960Private collection.After an Expressionists period, Ardon developed a Jewish Surrealistic symbolismCHECK FOR CITATION-2004 scanArdon first had an Expressionists periodLater, he developed a Jewish Surrealistic symbolism1959-He visited his birthplace in TuchowHe was angry with the Nazis and with a God who remained silent
  • DOVECOAT ABOVE QUMRAN-Mordecai Ardon, 1960Oil on canvas. 32 x 21 ½” BayeerischeStaatsgemaldesammlungen, MunichArdon made copious use of mystical elements He evolved a symbolical Jewish aspect alongside mystical landscapes He did not view landscape as a description of nature but rather as the scene of great events  He blended abstract and figurative elements He set his landscapes in an era of history
  • STONES AND SAND-Mordecai Ardon, 1960Oil on canvas63 ¾” x 51 ½” Private Collection. MontrealWhat do you think of this work? What do you see? What do you think Ardon intended?  
  • LANDSCAPE WITH BLACK SUN-Mordecai Ardon, 1961Oil on canvas. 31 x 39 ½” Collection R. H. Grierson, LondonWhy is this titled “Landscape with Black Sun?” What do you think it means?
  • STONES OF THE ANCIENT WALL-Mordecai Ardon, 1962Oil on canvas. 31 ¼ x 38 ¾” Collection of Mrs. Audrey Sacher, London, England, and Caesarea, IsraelWhy are these stones important? Which ancient wall captured Ardon’s attention?
  • TAMMUZ-Mordecai Ardon, 1962Oil on canvas. 63 ½ x 51” Collection L. Jesselson, New York CityTammuz may refer to a Babylonian or Sumerian godIt is the 10th month of the Hebrew calendarIt is also a month in the Babylonian calendarIn Babylonia, Tammuz originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or DumuziSome said the Levantine Adonis (“Lord”) was a counterpart of TammuzTammuz corresponds to our month of JulyAncient Near East observed the decline in daylight hours and the suffocating summer heat with a ‘funeral’ for the godHe was considered a life-death-rebirth deityThese mourning rituals were observed even at the door of the Temple in JerusalemIt was to the horror of the Israelite prophet Ezekiel
  • TRAIN OF NUMBERS-Mordecai Ardon, 1962Oil on canvas. 29 x 56 ½” Mishkan Le Omanut, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, IsraelFIND IMAGE AND SCAN RIGHT SIDE OF PAINTING! He fled to Jerusalem, painted Train of NumbersSharply etched lines and numbers slash the landscape and skyEvokes the rhythm of trains speeding the tattooed victims to death  Art cannot really depict the atrocitiesIt can only allude to it using abstraction and symbolismIn TRAIN OF NUMBERS, the dark lines refer to the transport trainsThey rode through a deserted landscape under a blood-red sky The wheels of the cattle cars seem to crush the victimsTheir bodies are symbolized by the numbers in the paintingNumbers were tattooed on those selected for labor at the campsOthers were sent directly to the gas chambers
  • CORAL REEFS ON THE RED SEA-Mordecai Ardon, 1963Oil on canvas40 ½ x 45 ¼”Private Collection. LondonWhere was the viewer be standing in order to see these coral reefs?Is the “Red” Sea really RED?
  • ABOVE THE FIELDS IN THE EMEK-Mordecai Ardon, 1963Oil on canvas mounted on board. 64 x 51 ½: Marlborough Gallery, New York City What does the word “EMEK” mean? What do you think Ardon was painting here?
  • TIMEPECKER-Mordecai Ardon, 1963Oil on canvas. 63 ¾” x 51 1/8” Collection Mr. And Mrs. M.B. Gitter, Tel AvivThis canvas treats time with derisive humorArdon’s image of time is ironicA robot, the unfeeling monster of contemporary lifeIt is constructed of belts and pulleysIt eats away clock numerals until none remainPastel hues of pinks and blue are paired with vibrant gold and redsThey move against a checkered background of sapphire blue1963: Wins the Israel Prize
  • NEAR JERUSALEM-Mordecai Ardon, 1964Oil on canvas. 39 x 31 7/8” Collection of Mr. And Mrs. A. Gershon Bineth, JerusalemHow ‘near’ to Jerusalem was the artist? And where was the viewer?
  • PAXADE-Mordecai Ardon, 1964Oil on canvas, 63 ¾ x 51” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Raphael Recanati, New York CityWhat does ‘Paxade’ mean? What is this painting all about?
  • HOMAGE TO JERUSALEM (Triptych), Mordecai Ardon, 1965Oil on canvas.Collection of Israel Discount Bank New York CityThis triptych creates a new myth centered on JerusalemImagery comes from Jacobs dream of a ladder It is set upon earth and reaches into heavenThis ladder represents the hopes and aspirations of mankindThere is also a ladder of descent The triptych is painted in brilliant green tonesIt unfolds a drama, which begins in hope and ends in despairThe motifs are ladders, moons, scrolls, Cabalistic signs, the CrossThey are combined in a rich and meaningful manner in the 3 panels
  • HOMAGE TO JERUSALEM (Triptych), Mordecai Ardon, 1965Oil on canvas.Collection of Israel Discount Bank New York CityLeft: Night of Ascents. 59 x 76 ¾”Ladders burst into bloom in this panelThey appear mysteriously, rising toward heavenThey are a reminder of the ladder in Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:12)One ladder (far right) reaches into the next panel
  • HOMAGE TO JERUSALEM (Triptych), Mordecai Ardon, 1965Oil on canvasCollection of Israel Discount Bank New York CityCenter: Parchment and Scrolls59 x 76 ¾” It becomes embedded in parchments and scrolls They stretch stiffly across the landscapeThe shape of the ladders now becomes the shape of the scrollsThe infinite space of the opening panel now becomes finiteEarth is filled with the written LawIt is depicted as a wall; a barrier to human’s limitless potential Ardon obliterates the Hebrew text as he paints itThis makes the letters difficult to decipherHe paints the text on an arid parchment-colored backgroundThis suggests the dryness of the Code (the Torah) Spots of red appear among the scrolls emphasizing mystical Sefirot They are attempting to flower in the wall of wordsTo Ardon, they are an oasis in the desert of The Law
  • HOMAGE TO JERUSALEM (Triptych), Mordecai Ardon, 1965Oil on canvasCollection of Israel Discount Bank New York CityRight: The Lament of Nails, 59 x 76 ¾” The imagery in the first panel is reversed in this oneThe clouds on the right (1st panel) are now the major focusTheir force their presence upon usThe nearly full moon had promised to illuminate the universeNow it has waned to a split crescentThe 1st panel’s efflorescence of ladders now is a single oneIt is no longer a ladder of hope, but of descentIt stands below the wood fragment of the CrossThe bent nails are weepingDark lines stream downward like tears1965: Makes first lithographs
  • YOREH-Mordecai Ardon, 1965 (RESCAN THIS IMAGE!)Oil on canvas. 63 ½ x 44 ½” Marlborough Gallery, New York CityCould you invent a story for which this would be the illustration?
  • AMULET FOR A YELLOW LANDSCAPE-Mordecai Ardon, 1966Oil on canvas. 38 1/38 x 50 ¾” The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, Gift of Mr. And Mrs. George M. JaffinArdon created amulet-like letters with secret meaning Only Ardon could read and understand themThis is the first painting where they appearedClear reds occasionally spotted the deep burnt-orange signsThey are set off by the black-earth backgroundArdon used both palette knife and cloth to enrich the brushwork 
  • NIGHTFALL IN JUDEA-Mordecai Ardon, 1966Oil on canvas. 58 ¾ x 79 ½”Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Josef Rosensaft, New York CityLandscapes form the major portion of Ardon’s oeuvreThey are the vehicle of his rich coloristic visionMany show a harmonization of brilliant tones with blackPhosphorescent colors flare up from unfathomable depthsThey vibrate in our presenceHere the foreground suggests Jerusalem’s hills Distant fires penetrate the velvet darknessThe pink, white, and purple paint was applied with a palette knifeIt builds up to small, light-colored ridgesDark shadows settle in their recesses
  • BIRTHDAY OF THE BLUE-Mordecai Ardon, 1966Oil on canvas. 52 x 38”Collection of Leo and Julia Forchheimer, New York CityWhat does the title tell you about this painting?
  • AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1967Oil on canvas. The Israel Museum, JerusalemArdon was challenged by the founding of the new Jewish stateHe created a new Israeli artIt is set in the present but has roots in the pastThis triptych was painted in 1967It was the year of the 6-Day War and the reunification of JerusalemArdon expresses his longing for a heavenly JerusalemLegend, mystical writings, and fantasy blend in this triptych
  • AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1967Oil on canvas. The Israel Museum, JerusalemLeft: Sign. 76 3/8x 51 1/8”This panel represents spiritual Jerusalem Shown in Kabbalistic images are the SEFIROT and shattered vesselsTwo creation legends are alluded to in this and the third panelThe mystical Sefirot stand out against the yellow-green parchmentThe Biblical text is barely discernibleJewish legend is woven into the paintingThe 1st letter and 2nd letters of the Hebrew alphabet are Aleph/BetThey refer to a legendary story of the Creation: All the letters of the alphabet stood before God Each pleaded to be used in forming the world Which was to be created by His word After 20 letters presented themselves and were rejected The Bet stepped forward and said: “Blessed be the Lord forever” Its request was granted The 1st Biblical word, “Be’reshit (In the Beginning) is a ‘Bet’ The Aleph stood modestly aside and did not ask for eminence It was especially honored by God Its humility was rewarded It was given the 1st place in the DecalogueIn Ardon’s painting, the honored letter stands out with great clarityThe Bet hides itself, somewhat ashamedThe whole panel is a song in praise of Creation
  • AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1967Oil on canvas. The Israel Museum, JerusalemCenter: Ladders.76 3/8 x 114 3/8” Here ladders of all faiths reach between the earth and the heavensBroken rungs are mendedRays of light augur the redemption leading to the End of DaysMany ladders intertwine and ascend toward HeavenFlashes of light illuminate the warm, glowing colors of the laddersThey are set against a dark background to conceal more laddersThe ladders symbolize human’s aspiration to attain a heavenly visionThe ladder has an intense personal meaning for ArdonWhen he returned to Tuchov after having finished his studies, an uncle came to congratulate him: “What did you study? he asked. When Ardon answered that he had become a painter, the uncle looked around the room and inquired: “So, where is your ladder?”
  • AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM (Triptych)-Mordecai Ardon, 1967Oil on canvas. The Israel Museum, JerusalemRight: Rock. 76 3/8 x 51 1/8” Earthly Jerusalem is portrayed in this panelIt features a section of Mt. MoriahThis panel depicts another legend, according to the ZoharThe world came into being when God hurled a stone into the abyssThe stone is known as the Even ShetiyahIt is the foundation stoneIt is believed to rest in the center of the world—JerusalemEarth colors build up a rock fragment whose shape is powerfulIt is on a black background and is also primitive A small part projects above the horizonThis may remind us of its heavenly originIt also takes root in the earth at the same timeThis is indicated by the supports belowThe texture of the entire painting is richEspecially in its golden centerColor illuminates the panel and suggests the holiness of the rockThe gate of heaven, the Bet Ha’Midash (Holy Temple) was built there This triptych looks hopefully to the futureIts legends are of creation, not destructionIt suggests that humans can create a better worldThen all the earth can become the “Gate of Heaven”
  • TO THE MORNING STAR-Mordecai Ardon, 1968Oil on canvas. 50 ½” x 47” Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Harold J. Ruttenberg, Pittsburgh and JerusalemMordechai Ardon carried Jerusalem in his heart He could not rid himself of it Jerusalem has moral demands about widows, orphans, the oppressedIt did not let him accept the concept of the absolute autonomy of art He said: “Queer Jerusalem always has some orders to give....Never is one alone! That’s the problem: the ‘you’ does not play any part in modern art.
  • IN THE EVENING-Mordecai Ardon, 1968Oil on canvas. 44 ½ x 63 ½” Collection of the Artist.
  • SHIP OF HOURS-Mordecai Ardon, 1968Oil on canvas. 51 x 77” Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd.
  • STONE FLOWERING-Mordecai Ardon, 1969Oil on canvas. 51 x 45” Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd.
  • THE AWAKENING-Mordecai Ardon, 1969 Oil on canvas. 78 x 62” Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd. Ardon said that “Artists are suns revolving on their own axes” He filtered the universe through the Jewish mystic tradition
  • YELLOW LANDSCAPE-Mordecai Ardon, 1969Oil on canvas. 35 x 45 ½”Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd.
  • THE SIGN OF BEGINNING-Mordecai Ardon, 1970Oil on canvas. 51 ½ x 51 ½” Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd. 1970s: Ardon painted figurative themes evocative of the Holocaust He also returned to traditional Jewish subjects
  • IN A HOT SUMMER-Mordecai Ardon, 1970Oil on canvas. 39 ½ z 32” Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Boris Senior, Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel
  • RONDOLUNE-Mordecai Ardon, 1970-71Oil on canvas. 63 ½ x 51 ¼”Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd.
  • MORDECAI ARDON WORKING ON A PLATE, 1971This photograph shows the artist using a tool (called a burin) to carve into the metal plate, from which an image will be printed
  • ANYWHERE-Mordecai Ardon, 1971Oil on canvas. 51 ¼ x 38” Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd. His paintings were a celestial expanse of warfare between the forces of light and darkness evil and virtue holocaust and redemption Ardonwas the leading master of figurative metaphysical symbolism
  • OUTLOOK-Mordecai Ardon, 1971Oil on canvas63 ¾ x 44 ½”Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd. Ardon planned and calculated each canvas with the utmost careHe spent many hours making precise preparatory color studies Further, he said: “To make a picture is TO GIVE BIRTH to it—to a living being…..All preparations are the nine months…nine minutes, perhaps…or the nine holy steps to give birth to a living canvas!”  
  • FRENZY OF A BLACK HORSE(MAROTTES DU CHEVAL NOIR)-Mordecai Ardon, 1972Oil on canvas. 51 x 38”Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd. His sparkling colors are achieved by pigments he ground himselfHe said: “I don’t like a painting to result from the accidental. A painting must be built with an inner logic, that is, with a heart and a brain. It has to be full of inner life.”  In Israel’s early existence he was renowned for a national artIt is modern—using the aesthetics of modernism It is also invested with Jewish symbolismAnd, finally, it is haunted by the memory of the Holocaust  1974: Awarded honorary Ph.D. at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem1992: Mordecai Ardon died  

Mordecai ardon042309hc Mordecai ardon042309hc Presentation Transcript

  • THE ART OF
    MORDECAI ARDON
    Myrna Teck, Ph.D.
    Independent Scholar
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  • It is said that the love of
    Art cannot be TAUGHT
    It can only be CAUGHT!
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  • So I hope I’ve made
    THE ART OF MORDECAI ARDON
    Contagious to you today!
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