First Hand: Avigdor Arikha

Arikha BreadAvigdor Arikha, Bread and Knife (1973), Sumi ink on paper, 11-4/5 x 15-3/5″; courtesy the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece

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As scrupulous (if not as tenacious) as Giacometti and as terse (if more substantive) than Luc Tuymans, Avigdor Arikha (1929-2010) dubbed himself a “post-abstract representational artist”. A survivor of the concentration camps and Israel’s War of Independence–where he was almost left for dead–the Romanian-born Arikha studied art in Jerusalem and Paris, eventually establishing an international reputation as a painter and draftsman. Though sought after as a portraitist–among his sitters were Queen Elizabeth and Catherine Deneueve–Arikha found his true forte when depicting objects, divining within them a tenderness and wit that was no less apparent for being anxiety riven.

© 2019 Mario Naves



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  • Mark Anderson  On September 13, 2019 at 3: 45 pm

    It’s interesting to me that Arikha’s painting as a realist is much more “abstract” than it was before when he was an abstract painter. I have two of his prints and they the quality of just trying to get it done right overshadows anything else. The line and the usage of it so important more so than any image, as it is in Morandi’s work. His wife wrote a beautiful poem about posing for him that should be read by everyone who loves art.

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