THE ART OF REUVEN RUBIN All images, unless otherwise noted, are from Wilkinson, S. (1971). Reuven Rubin. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York
THE DREAM-Reuven Rubin, 1965 Pencil and crayon, 14 ½ x 20” Helena Klachkin Gallery, Tel Aviv The topic of dreaming is once again on Rubin’s mind Is this Jacob dreaming of the angel If so, who is the woman holding the baby in the background”
FAMILY AT REST-Reuven Rubin, 1941 Pen and ink and gouache, 12 ½ x 17” In 1939, Rubin and Esther went to New York instead of Rumania Their projected short stay became a six-year sojourn The war that began in Sept. 1939 prevented their return to Eretz Israel His stay in America brought him artistic and material success It established his reputation in the U.S. Yet, he always claimed that he felt a stranger everywhere except Israel
FISHERMAN FAMILY FIXING NETS-Reuven Rubin, 1947 Pen and ink and wash, 20 x 26” Collection Mrs, R, Davis, New York Rubin had an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum in May of 1947 The reaction was mixed He was criticized for not “projected the reality of Eretz Yisrael” He said: “The artist must be true to his convictions, to what he feels instinctively. What is news is not necessarily worthwhile. I must follow the dictates of my heart. If a painting of mine can add one iota to anyone’s joy in living, then I feel I have succeeded.”
Rubin in Bucharest as Minister Plenipotentiary to Rumania, 1948 On November 29, the General Assembly of the U. N. partitioned Palestine After much fighting, the State of Israel was born on May 14, 1948 The proposal for him to become a diplomat came as a complete surprise to him The Prime Minister, Ben-Gurion had confidence in his abilities The foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, told him that he must serve his country Rubin had long been a public figure He was an active, energetic man associated with many communal projects He had a forceful personality that attracted attention The whole period of his stay in Rumania had a mystical significance for him
SNAKE CHARMER-Reuven Rubin, 1950 Mixed media, 20 x 14” Collection Ariella Rubin, Tel Aviv Rubin’s preferred subject is the human figure, regardless of what it’s doing The figure may frequently have a Biblical aura This, and the following two works, show the range of his technical expertise They were created within 7 years, but show a development of skill A splatter of ink drops became a Rubin characteristic Rubin began to use a combination of various materials in many of his works
SNAKE CHARMER-Reuven Rubin, 1956 Pen and ink and wash, 31 x 21 ½” Collection of the artist, Tel Aviv Rubin’s line is flowing, rhythmical, graceful, strong and confident His most direct and forceful expression is though his graphic work He describes the contours of a body with sparse, nervous pen strokes They are charged with energy and magically convey movement The splatter of ink drops take on greater prominence They provide a visual contrast to the almost frenzied, gestural line
SNAKE CHARMER-Reuven Rubin, 1957 Mixed media, 20 x 12 ½” Collection Ami Ginegar, Tel Aviv The ink spots have disappeared from this work Yet, the linear contours describe the figure in the briefest of ink lines A subtle application of tone in green and gold enhance tan and black lines
DIKLA-Reuven Rubin, 1950 Oil on canvas, 12 ½ x 10 ½” Collection Mr. And Mrs. N. Bernstein, Dublin Portraits were never of great interest to Rubin As a painter who takes reality as his point of departure, he preferred to be less tied to his subject than portrait painting allowed. He never accepted portrait commission His sitters were always personal friends and their children or member of his family He had a special fondness for children Their portraits have particular warmth and sympathetic understanding He emphasized individual characteristics
FIRST SEDER, 1928-Reuven Rubin, 1950 Grossman, G. (1995). Jewish Art. New York: Hugh Lauter Levin, p. 302 The Rubin Museum Foundation Reuven Rubin painted a promised land His works have a strong architectural sense The Biblical and Midrashic imagination rules the canvas There is a Rubin House in Tel Aviv The “ingathering of the Jewish people” was one of his main tasks in Rumania In this painting, there are immigrants from various parts of the world The composition is reminiscent of Leonard’s LAST SUPPER Rubin reverted to his “naïve” manner of painting This is a ‘document’ of the period of mass immigration following 1948 There is an Arab in abaya, kaffiya and agal This is the traditional Arab garments: cloak, headdress, and headband The figure on the left, with hands marked by stigmata, is mysterious Is he prophet or messiah? Jerusalem’s walled city and a range of mountains are seen through arches This composition is reminiscent of Leonardo’s LAST SUPPER But this is not a Last Supper, it is a FIRST SEDER It is a document of immigration after the declaration of the State of Israel
QUARTET IN REHOVOT-Rubin, R., 1951 Oil on canvas. 23 ½ x 32” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Seniel Ostrow, Beverly Hills, CA 1950-Jascha Heifetz stimulated Rubin to paint musical instruments Jascha Heifetz was a personal friend who came to Israel to perform In this painting, the dark shapes of the instruments form a pattern They are shown in an empty room against a landscape filled with light Light permeates the room and the whole paintings breathes brightness It is certainly a summer day and the sound of music lingers on Rubin returned to this theme many times in the future
MUSICAL INTERLUDE-Reuven Rubin, 1969 Oil on canvas, 25 ½ x 36” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Edward E Ginsberg, Cleveland and Caesarea
GOLDFISH VENDOR-Rubin, R., 1926 Oil on canvas, 29 x 24” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Harold Ruttenberg, Pittsburgh ARAB FISHERMAN, 1928 (previously titled GOLDFISH VENDOR) Rubin, Reuven. [Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold J. Ruttenberg to the Jewish Museum, NY] This primitive work is typical of Rubin’s joyous vision of the land of Israel It also shows the physical vitality of the Arabs. Rubin pursued a wide variety of subject matter He expressed some of the local folklore and imbued it with mysticism His work attempts to capture the spirit of the Orient His paintings show the influence of Persian miniature figures Naive painting frequently shows the frontality of the figures It often has equal apportionment of light across the painting. 1920s his work was viewed as the Eretz Israel painter PAR EXCELLENCE Haym Nachman Bialik wrote “Rubin’s Eretz Israel seems to us like a Talmudic legend, the legend of the Land of Israel.” His work displayed the confluence of different cultures and people
Spring 1952: He left Tel Aviv for New York to prepare for exhibitions He said he had been a “dollar-a-year” man as a diplomat and wanted to repay debts incurred by this luxury In November 1952, his daughter Ariella was born
GOLDFISH VENDOR-Reuven Rubin, 1955 Oil on canvas, 42 x 28” Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris Rubin did an earlier version of the same subject in 1926-28 It is interesting to compare this painting with that of 30 years before The 30-year interval wrought great changes in approach and execution The position of the subject is almost identical, though reversed The initial drawing and application of paint is quite different This one is much more stylized and less realistic The drawing is much more energetic and the paint more impasto Imagination is stronger than naturalism Naivete is replaced by a sophisticated differentiated handling This ease and grace is the result of concentrated effort and lots of work 1955: Rubin was back preparing for a retrospect at the Tel Aviv Museum This painting was included It was later acquired by the Musee National d’Art Moderne in Paris
SHEEP SHEARER-Reuven Rubin, 1955 Oil on canvas, 46 x 35” Detroit Institute of Arts 1953: Two one-man shows in New York at Grace Borgenicht Gallery: Paintings in May; drawings in December Acquisition of SHEEP SHEARER by the Museum of Art, University of Arizona, Tucson
GALILEAN FISHERMAN-Reuven Rubin, 1961 Pen and ink, 26 x 20” Drawing for Visages d’Israel, album of twelve lithographs published by Daniel Jacomet Paris, 1961 This image is part of the series Rubin did He used the same technical approach That is, a fluid linear contour outline with light washes of ink Once again we see the haphazard spots which add spontaneity to the image
DREAMER-Reuven Rubin, 1960 Oil on canvas, 63 x 38” Collection Einstein Institute, New York Gift of Mr. M. L. Friedman This dreamer may have a landscape in his mind’s eye Or he may be dreaming of the music, which his drum accompanied Alfred Werner said: “A striking synthesis of architectural strength and luxuriant color” He was referred to as “Israel’s greatest living artist”
FLUTE PLAYER-Reuven Rubin, 1959 Oil on canvas 32 x 26” Collection Mrs. Heinz Kern, Caracas An earlier painting by the same title was acquired by MoMA, NYC This strong and vibrant red background repeats the skin color of the flutist The use of viridian green increases the power of the red hue With no eyeballs, one may imagine the sound of music as if with eyes closed
STILL LIFE WITH FRUIT-Reuven Rubin, 1941 Oil on canvas, 29 x 36” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Abraham Feinberg, New York This painting was done in New York Cherries replaced the pomegranates in which he took such delight
STILL LIFE ON A PINK TABLE-Reuven Rubin, 1943 Oil on canvas. 22 x 34” Collection Ariella Rubin, Tel Aviv Between 1940 and 1945, Rubin had six one-man shows in New York He also participated in the exhibition “Twentieth-Century Portraits” at MoMA Rubin and Esther’s son David was born in 1945 They returned to Eretz Israel in 1946
POMEGRANATES ON MY WINDOW-Reuven Rubin, 1961 Oil on canvas, 24 x 32” Collection Mollie Parnis, New York This painting captures one of the oldest Jewish symbols in their new land The pomegranate is one of the seven species with which Israel is blessed This is from Deuteronomy 8: 7-8 They are: Wheat, Barley, Vines, Figs, Pomegranates, olive trees, honey
THIS IS THE LAND-Reuven Rubin, 1962-64 Oil on canvas, 571/2 x 38 ½” Petit Palais, Geneva Once again, we see Rubin’s window sill opening to the trees in the distance On the table top are two pomegranates, one cut in half and one intact They are the ancient symbol of this land and its abundance The pomegranate as symbol comes from a number of Biblical citations Exodus 39: 24 cites pomegranates on the hem of the Priests’ robe It had bells of pure gold and in between the bells were pomegranates These were all around the hem of the robe of the High Priest
POMEGRANATES-Reuven Rubin, 1969 Does the scene through the window compete with these pomegranates?
POPPIES IN THE FIELD-Reuven Rubin, 1965 Oil on canvas, 29 x 36” Collection Mrs. J. Myer Schine, New York
BOUQUET WITH MIMOSA-Reuven Rubin, 1958 Oil on canvas, 40 ½ x 30” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Raphael Recanati, New York Some of Rubin’s gayest flower paintings were done during the period He moved from naturalism to a more symbolic and stylized composition This particular one has an ephemeral lightness and fluidity The dark and heavy blocks on the bottom contrast with the color at the top The repeated shapes of leaves grow lighter as they move higher up Mimosa is a unique and diaphanous plant, which seems to disappear in air
MIMOSA-Reuven Rubin, 1961 Oil on canvas. 46 x 35” Collection Israel Museum. Jerusalem This painting is a fascinating study in the design elements of modernism the strong rectangular wooden windows and their panes contrast with The airy effusiveness of the mimosa flowerings The rigid angular forms play off the curving chair, pitcher and flowers The dark colors emphasize solidity The light color contrasts and highlights the ethereal quality of the mimosa
MIMOSA AND BLACK IRIS-Reuven Ruben, 1961 Oil on canvas, 40 x 30” Collection of Sir Isaac and Lady Wolfson, London and Rehovot Rubin also painted a different interpretation of a similar subject Here the black iris take prominence against the fluffy mimosa The dark curving shapes of the iris repeat the curves of the pitcher They contrast with the rectangular shapes on both sides and at the bottom These repetitions and contrasts create an atmosphere
SUNFLOWERS-Reuven Rubin, 1942 Oil on canvas, 39 x 29” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Leon Gildesgame Mt. Kisco, NY A California friend recalled visiting his studio in Los Angeles He said that he saw many “glowing flower works”
SPRING BOUQUET-Reuven Rubin, 1957 Oil on canvas. 29 x 24” Collection of Sir Isaac and Lady Wolfson, London and Rehovot Rubin’s flower paintings are the most immediately enjoyable of his works Flowers are often used as a decorative element of varying importance Late 1920s: Flowers became a theme in themselves Rubin said he always reveled in the color, shape, and perfume of flowers He used them as a main subject only after Esther arrived in the country He said they would return from outings with bunches of wild flowers She arranged them in bowls and vases throughout his home Thus, he was always conscious of their beauty He delighted in painting poppies, anemones in naturalistic detail He also painted the mauve-blues of the iris, the blur of gold of the mimosa, the gamut of yellows and reds of the gerbera daisy and the contrast of the white roses to their deep green leaves. Over the years his handling of flower paintings grew freer, with more emphasis on the vibrance of color than on the shape of individual flower His flower paintings are a hymn to nature
BIRTHDAY BOUQUET-Reuven Rubin, 1963 Oil on canvas. 40 x 30” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Harvey Gilston, Luasanne What a gorgeous and everlasting birthday bouquet of flowers to receive! Who wouldn’t appreciate such astounding beauty! The combination of various flowers in a cut crystal vase is breathtaking And to know that it will last forever makes is unique and very special Visually, there is a mystery as to the wide and fuzzy black vertical line Are we voyeurs looking through a window? One could write a wonderful interpretive story based on this image
WHITE ROSES-Reuven Rubin, 1964 Oil on canvas, 44 x 37” Collection Claude Geismar, Paris This is a quieter painting of flowers The roses are dense with heavy foliage They do not overpower the composition Their curving shapes repeat that of the handle of the pitcher Both components contrast with the vertical rectangle on the left Is that a window? Or a shutter? Or a cabinet? You decide. Rubin’s application of paint is rough and painterly There is no question that this image is made of paint It is not a photograph!
WHITE LILACS-Reuven Rubin, 1962 Oil on canva. 40 x 29 ½” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Louis Regenstein, Atlanta, GA
AFTER THE STORM-Reuven Rubin, 1965 Oil on canvas, 36 x 29” The Rubin Museum Foundation
Rubin painting THE GLORY OF GALILEE, 1965-66 Oil on Canvas. 75 x 120” The Knesset, Jerusalem.
THE GLORY OF GALILEE-Reuven Rubin, 1965-66 Oil on Canvas. 75 x 120” The Knesset, Jerusalem.
Rubin and his wife, Esther in the garden of their Caesarea home, 1966
BOY WITH BOUQUET-Reuven Rubin, 1966 Oil on canvas, 36 x 25” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Jack Resnick, New York This painting was shown in his exhibition in Switzerland
SIMHAT TORAH-Reuven Rubin, 1967 Oil on canvas, 32 x 26” Collection Mr, and Mrs. Leslie Jackson, London From the mid-1960s: Jewish subjects became a preoccupation This canvas conveys an ethereal spirituality The figures are lightly delineated by white contour lines Pigment is applied in a soft, feathery manner
CROWNING THE TORAH-Reuven Rubin, 1969
PRAYER FOR PEACE-Reuven Rubin, 1967 Pen and ink, crayon, and gouache, 25 x 20” Collection H. Krongold, Toorak, Victoria, Australia This is a sketch, but it captures the hope and prayer for the future 1964: Tel Aviv, awarded him a prize for a “lifetime’s artistic achievement” He had been a leading citizen of the city of Tel Aviv for 40 years
PEACE OFFERING-Reuven Rubin, 1967 Oil on canvas, 36 x 29” Collection Mr. And Mrs. Walter Artzt, New York This expressive painting came at the end of the Six Day War in 1967 The father carries a white lamb on his shoulder The mother and child are symbolically grouped together Rubin made several versions of this, but rarely with such assured serenity.
Rubin feeding doves in Caesarea, 1967
Rubin working in the Garden in Caesarea, 1967
Rubin and his Family in his studio on his 70th Birthday, 1963 This photograph is of Rubin, his daughter Ariella, Son David and wife Esther They are seated beside a Self-Portrait and other works in his studio
SO I HOPE THAT I HAVE MADE THE ART OF REUVEN RUBIN (PART 2) CONTAGIOUS TO YOU TODAY…….
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THE ART OF REUVEN RUBIN
Myrna Teck, Ph.D.